What should have been an exciting entry into teenhood for Meri Mion was marred by the fact that someone stole the birthday cake her mom had baked for her. Now, 77 years later, an act of contrition from the perp—none other than the US Army, reports the BBC. The infraction took place in late April 1945, at the end of World War II, in the village of San Pietro in Northern Italy, after soldiers from the United States' 88th Infantry Division had battled their way into the region and driven off German troops, per the AP. The fighting was fierce—the BBC notes 19 US troops were killed in nearby Vicenza—and on April 28, the night before Mion's 13th birthday, she and her mom hid in the attic of their family farm as shots were fired outside by the retreating Germans.
By the next morning, the Americans were on the scene, and Mion's mother emerged to bake a birthday cake for her daughter, leaving it on one of their windowsills to cool. US troops who'd already been plied with bread and wine from thankful Italian locals apparently wanted some dessert to go with it and swiped the cake right off the sill. Mion's "happiness turned into disappointment," says Col. Matthew Gomlak, commander of US Army Garrison Italy, per the US Army. On Thursday, the eve of Mion's 90th birthday, the Army tried to make it up to her, with a new birthday cake presented in a ceremony in Vicenza.
With hundreds in attendance, US commanders and Italian officials serenaded her with the "Happy Birthday" song in both English and Italian, leaving a touched Mion in tears (see the video here). "It was a little awkward, but it makes me feel great to give her the cake," Sgt. Peter Wallis of Seabeck, Wash., says. For her part, Mion doesn't seem to have any hard feelings all these decades later. "We will eat that dessert with all my family, remembering this wonderful day that I will never forget," she says. (Read more uplifting news stories.)