At the Ohio Air National Guard base near Toledo, Lt. Col. Frank Dailey still can’t believe the honor recently bestowed upon him.
“It’s incredible being recognized in such a manner,” he says.
It happened at a Cracker Barrel, of all places. As the security camera shows, Dailey entered the restaurant on Feb. 7 for an early lunch. At about the same time, 8-year-old Myles Eckert came in with his family.
Myles was very excited. He’d just found a $20 bill in the parking lot. He’d started thinking of what he could spend it on.
“I kind of wanted to get a video game, but then I decided not to,” Myles says.
He changed his mind when he saw the guy in uniform.
“Because he was a soldier, and soldiers remind me of my dad,” Myles explains.
And so, with his dad in mind, Myles wrapped the $20 in a note that read, “Dear Soldier — my dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.”
Army Sgt. Andy Eckert was killed in Iraq, just five weeks after Myles was born. All the kid has ever had are pictures and dog tags, other people’s memories and his own imagination.
“I imagine him as a really nice person and somebody that would be really fun,” Myles says.
The dad he imagines must also love a good story. Because after lunch that day, Myles asked his mom, Tiffany, to make one more stop.
“He wanted to go see his dad,” Tiffany says. “And he wanted to go by himself that day.”
She took a photo from the car. Follow the footsteps and you’ll see Myles standing there behind the flag, presumably telling his dad all about it. And whether heaven heard him or not, his good deed continues to impress here on earth.
“I look at it every day,” Dailey says of the note Myles gave him.
It turns out Myles gave him a bigger gift than $20.
“A lifetime direction, for sure,” Dailey says.
Dailey says he’s already given away that $20 and plans to do much more. He also hopes that little green Post-It will inspire other people across the country to give — to give as sincerely and dutifully as that father and son.