CLAREMONT – Ever since Robyn Cole can remember, she has wanted to honor her father, a World War II veteran, with something as simple as a card on Veterans’ Day.
This year, her wish has come true.
After four years of writing letters and filling out petitions, Cole has finally helped persuade Hallmark to manufacture the cards for the first time in its history. Company officials said they had twice considered creating the special occasion cards, but dropped the idea because of a perceived lack of demand.
When Cole, 32, recently saw the cards for the first time at a Hallmark store, she sat on the floor and cried — her emotions overwhelming her.
“My father is my hero,” said Cole, who works in student services at Claremont Graduate University. “I want to honor him and celebrate the fact that he’s still here and that he fought for our freedom.”
Cole’s father, Robert Sauter, served in World War II as a Navy medical corpsman assigned to the Marines from 1943 to 1946. He was stationed in the South Pacific.
When Cole was a child, she would sit with her father as he watched war movies.
“What I saw those men go through awe-struck me,” Cole said. “I can’t imagine going to a foreign country away from family and friends and go and shoot a gun and fight a war. It must be so frightening.”
Cole first wrote to Hallmark in November 1998 with her idea for Veterans’ Day cards. She received a polite response thanking her for the suggestion and saying the idea would be given to company officials.
She waited a year and wrote again, but she received no response from the company. Cole then sent e-mails through Hallmark’s web site.
By November 2000, Cole had created a petition and gathered more than 50 signatures. She also dropped off petitions to several VFW posts with the hope they would fill them out and send them to Hallmark.
After writing CEO Donald J. Hall, Cole received a letter in July saying Hallmark was touched by her story and would launch a nationwide line of 20 Veterans’ Day cards.
Hallmark manufactured the cards believing about 5,000 stores would order them, but more than 18,000 placed orders nationwide, said company spokeswoman Rachel Boulton.
Boulton complimented Cole’s determination and said the cards became a reality because of people like her.
“Robyn was a big part of helping to get these cards produced,” Boulton said. “She deserves credit and was definitely part of the effort that helped bring the cards into the stores.”
Cole’s father smiled as he thought of his daughter and her efforts. “I knew she would never give up, but I never thought she’d get her way,” Sauter said.