A photo of Santa Claus kneeling in front of a WWII veteran is winning hearts on Facebook.
The picture was snapped on Dec. 1 by Gina Wilbur of Wilmington, Delaware, while Christmas shopping with her stepson at Concord Mall.
"I saw Santa starting to come towards me and I thought maybe he was taking a break," Wilbur told "Good Morning America." "I grabbed my phone and thought it would be neat to take a pic of Santa walking by."
Wilbur said that Santa had purposefully walked over to a man who was later revealed to be Bob Smiley, 93, of Wilmington. Wilbur then witnessed Santa kneeling down and shaking Smiley's hand.
"Everything you think Santa Claus is, that's just who that man was," Wilbur said.
Everything you think Santa Claus is, that's just who that man was.
Wilbur posted the heartfelt moment on Facebook where it garnered 13,000 likes. She also shared it in the North Wilmington moms' Facebook group where Smiley's daughter, Amy Platt, recognized her father in the picture.
"I thought the photo was beautiful--it just reminded me of my dad," Platt told "GMA." "My dad just gives respect to a lot of people and in turn gets that same respect. It has been so nice to see somebody honoring him like Santa had done."
It has been so nice to see somebody honoring him like Santa had done.
Smiley fought in Germany in 1945. He is a father of 10 and is a proud grandfather to 26 grandchildren and several great grandchildren. His wife Jane Smiley, died in 2015.
Smiley told "GMA" that the encounter with Santa was one to remember.
"He is almost a real Santa Claus," Smiley said. "He's a very nice man. I was thrilled. I was sitting there and he bent down his knee. His father was in WWII the same as me and also, his father was in the Korean War and has since passed away."
The Santa in the photo preferred he be referred to as ‘"Concord Mall Santa" to preserve the magic, he said. Santa told "GMA" that the Christmas season is about "sharing gratitude."
"I am especially thankful for veterans like Robert Smiley, who are our true heroes," he said.
Wilbur said she and her stepson will be visiting with Smiley next week.
Smiley said he is looking forward to Christmas dinner with his eldest daughter and grandchildren.