A Korean War veteran recently sent me a $10 bill in the mail...He won't get away with that.
There's a story, which we'll get to in a bit, but first we must address the succinct instructions that came bundled with the ten-spot: "For your magazine’s petty cash fund, or drinks for the house."
Now, I'd like to think I have a decent bone somewhere in my body, so I was duty-bound not to let the orders of a war hero go unfulfilled. And, well, I didn't. The drinks, I mean. Not the petty cash. But I wasn't about to let this generous shot across my honorable bow go unanswered, either.
First, some background. A few months ago, I had the privilege to tag along on an Honor Flight, an all-expense-paid trip for WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War veterans to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C., built to honor them. It was a powerful and emotional journey. My job was to track and document the experience of three veterans from Seminole County. One of them was Altamonte's Robert Garlie, a Korean War Army vet.
A recap of the trip appeared in our January/February issues, and Robert asked for some extra copies.
"Sure," I said. "I'll bring them to your house."
Robert was having none of that. He insisted on coming to our Lake Mary office himself to pick them up. I protested – the man's a war hero for goodness sake – but again I was overruled by a clearly superior officer.
A couple of days later, Robert made the errand. He picked up the magazines and dropped off an envelope with a thank-you card, the money, and the orders inside. Oh, and two bags of candy. Did I mention the candy? I probably forgot because it was gone so fast.
When we discovered the cash, the office staff and I looked at each other in respectful amazement.
So, Robert, thanks for the drinks, but this is what we're going to do: We're gonna see your ten and raise you forty, for a total of $50 which will be donated directly to Honor Flight Central Florida in your name. The money will help another decorated veteran travel to the capital to be reminded that a grateful nation never forgets.
And Robert, my good friend, the next round's on me.
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