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8-year-old boy inspires others to ‘pay it forward’

Published: 01:19PM March 6th, 2014

Call it timing or fate, but I was meant to hear this story.

As I was driving to lunch Monday, I heard a story on the radio that caught my ear. It was about an 8-year-old Myles Eckert and how he found a $20 bill in a Cracker Barrel restaurant parking lot in Ohio in early February.

It’s what he did with that twenty that’s heart-warming.

CBS News reported that Myles first asked his mother if he could keep the money, but when Myles and his family went into the restaurant he saw a service member in uniform.

Myles told CBS News, “I kind of wanted to get a video game,” but he got another idea when he saw the uniform. “Because he was a Soldier, and Soldiers remind me of my dad,” Myles told CBS.

Myles’ father, Army Sgt. Andy Eckert was killed in Iraq only five weeks after Myles was born. Today Myles has pictures of his dad holding him as an infant, and his father’s dog tags to remember him by.

At the restaurant Myles asked for a piece of paper and wrote this note, “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.”

Myles tucked the $20 in the note and had it delivered to the man in uniform.

The recipient was Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Dailey, 180th Fighter Wing, Toledo Air National Guard Base, Swanton, Ohio, who told CBS, “It’s incredible being recognized in such a manner.”

Dailey told CBS he’s already given the $20 away, but he kept Myles’ note and says he looks at it every day. He said Myles’ note has inspired him to do more.

Myles’ story got some news coverage, but not a lot. Frankly, I would have missed it altogether if I hadn’t heard the radio story.

This story reminded me of when I was an Army captain on temporary duty at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in 1998. I and several others were at a local catfish restaurant for dinner. When we went to pay our bill we found it had been paid by an elderly couple passing through town on their vacation. They left a simple note that said, “Thank you for your service.”

While I was in uniform, I appreciated each time someone thanked me for serving. I’m still grateful when people thank me for having served.

Now that I’m retired I’m finding more-and-more that I’m the one doing the thanking.

To thank a service member for his or her service brightens their day and mine as well. Go ahead, try it sometime.

Myles Eckert, thank you for reminding me of the value of a thank you. You are an inspiration.

More online

To see the CBS news story about Myles Eckert go to