DeShauna Priest wrote a thank-you letter to World War II veteran Frank Grasberger when she was 9, and the two finally met 12 years later this July

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Twelve years ago, then 9-year-old DeShauna Priest wrote a letter to World War II veteran Frank Grasberger, thanking him for all he did in the military.

Grasberger has kept that simple letter — which features a drawing of an American flag and flowers coming out of a helmet — since then and held out hope he would one day meet Priest in person.

"I could not understand how a young girl could write a letter to a veteran when she — I don't think she had any idea what a war was," Grasberger tells PEOPLE. "And she wrote a letter, and what tore me up is how she wrote it and showed flowers coming out of a helmet."

"I was very impressed, as young as she was, that she thought about a veteran and how she made it a letter to a veteran," the 95-year-old adds. "I really wanted to see her."

Veteran Meets Girl Who Wrote Him A Thank You Letter After 12 Years of Searching
Credit: Courtesy Vitalia Senior Residences – Strongsville

After a long search, the day the two would finally meet happened this July.

After an employee at VITALIA Senior Residences at Strongsville tracked down now 21-year-old Priest on social media, she came to visit Grasberger at the center. That's when he found out she had joined the military herself and is currently serving in the U.S. Army National Guard.

The moment was an emotional one for all involved.

"We cried together," Priest tells PEOPLE. "We've cried together. I don't really cry around anyone."

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Grasberger's wife, Delores, spoke about how much Priest's letter meant to him.

"It was just something about that letter that made him keep thinking and thinking about her, kept her in his mind all the time, and he had never met her," she tells PEOPLE. "He didn't know anything about her. That letter, it was an act of kindness, is what it was."