The U.S. Army Just Replaced a Birthday Cake They Took 77 Years Ago

A cake baked for Meri Mion's 13th birthday was swiped from her windowsill by American soldiers in 1945. On her 90th birthday, the military finally made up for it.

Meri Mion receives a birthday cake from the U.S. Army
Photo: Laura Kreider

You can't blame Meri Mion for wanting a slice of birthday cake. She turned 13 years old on April 29, 1945, and she and her mother had just spent a harrowing night hiding in the attic of their farmhouse in San Pietro, Italy. As thunderstorms raged, and rain lashed down, they listened to the sounds of gunfire as the U.S. Army's 88th Infantry Division held their ground against German military forces.

On the morning of her birthday, she was still rattled by the events of the previous night, but she was comforted by the smell of her just-baked birthday cake, which her mom had put on the windowsill to cool. But before she could have her first slice, some "resourceful" American soldiers had helped themselves to the entire cake.

While Mion might've been mourning her lost birthday treat, her neighbors in the northeastern Italian city of Vincenza were welcoming the American troops, offering them bread and wine as they made their way down the city's main street, Corso Palladio. According to a release from the U.S. Army, at least 19 members of the U.S. military were killed or wounded, and several tanks were destroyed during that long night of combat as they kept the Germans from advancing into the city.

But almost exactly 77 years later, the Army wanted to make things right with Mion. Earlier this week, soldiers from U.S. Army Garrison Italy, American and Italian military veterans, members of Italy's carabinieri, and hundreds of locals gathered in Giardini Salvi, where Mion was presented with a long-overdue birthday cake. "It was a little awkward, but it makes me feel great to give her the cake," Sgt. Peter Wallis said.

In a YouTube video posted by U.S. Army Garrison Italy, Mion is serenaded with two versions of "Happy Birthday," first in Italian, then in English. She gently wipes her eyes as she looks at the cake, which was decorated with fresh fruit and iced with wishes for her 90th birthday. (Although maybe it should've said something about the 77th anniversary of her 13th birthday?)

A cake reading Happy 90th Birthday in Italian
Photo by Laura Kreider

"Tomorrow, we will eat that dessert with all my family remembering this wonderful day that I will never forget" she said. We're guessing that the first bite — the one she waited almost 80 years for — couldn't have tasted any sweeter.

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