For most couples, making it to their 50th anniversary is a major milestone. But Thursday in Manassas, Virginia, a special couple is marking more than seven decades of marriage, after a courtship that started during World War II. And a local military museum is putting a spotlight on their long partnership.
Pete and Betty Anastasi made quite the entrance at their anniversary party, their son at the helm of a motorcycle with Pete behind him and Betty in the sidecar. The Freedom Museum in Manassas threw a party for the couple who inspired the museum's wartime weddings exhibit that's now on display.
The couple married on June 9, 1945. That means that Thursday is their 77th wedding anniversary.
"I’m glad you’re with me and I’m with you, dear. I love you just the same," Pete told Betty, squeezing her hand.
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Pete, at 100 years old, is wearing the same Army uniform he got married in.
"I bought this uniform for our wedding, and I just took care of it," he said.
Pete was serving stateside in WWII back in 1945, based at Vint Hill, when he went to a USO dance one night and fell hard for Betty.
"We got here, and I see this babe over here … I said 'Wow, I need that … We hit it off good, just jitterbugging, and oh, it was fantastic!" he recalled.
Betty remembered, "I thought he was nice."
Just a few months later, they were married.
"She stole my heart so bad I couldn't do anything else … Really, look at her, isn't she pretty?" Pete said.
Over the years, the couple raised two children. Pete worked for the federal government; Betty was a deputy clerk of court, and they’ve traveled the world together.
Secret #1 to 77 years together:
"We never go to sleep without having a kiss — ain’t that right, Betty?" Pete said.
"It has to be give and take," Betty said.
Pete added, "She wants me to do something, I do it. I want her to do something, she does it. And we have a few indifferences every now and then; that’s only human."
And reading a little poetry to the love of your life doesn’t hurt, either. Pete shared what he wrote for Betty on their 50th anniversary: "Now this bundle of love that’s 5 foot 2, with eyes of blue, has blessed our home with two jewels of life."
The ending moved Pete to tears on this special day.
"My poem ends, 'But life begins because I have you, my dearest wife, the one I met at that little old dance, and fell love with at the very first glance, a soldier boy.'"
As he finished reading, he chuckled and said, "Even I got tears that time."
There were tears, but great joy, too, as this couple celebrates 77 years of love.
Pete said he wanted others at their senior living community to share in their celebration. He bought red roses for each lady who lives there.