Pay it Forward

Like most 8-year-olds, Myles Eckert was already dreaming up ways he could spend a $20 bill he had just discovered laying in a Cracker Barrel parking lot earlier this month.

“I kind of wanted to get a video game, but then I decided not to,” the child recounted.

That’s because Eckert saw Lt. Col. Frank Dailey enter the restaurant. The man in uniform changed his mind.

Why?

“Because he was a soldier, and soldiers remind me of my dad,” Eckert explained.

So, instead of purchasing something for himself, Eckert did something very different on Feb. 7. Something Dailey says he will remember for “a lifetime.”

The 8-year-old boy wrapped the $20 bill in a note he had authored to the solider.

“Dear Soldier — my dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now,” the note said. “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.”

Eckert’s father, Army Sgt. Andy Eckert, had been killed in Iraq when he was only a few weeks old. The 8-year-old can only think of what he was like.

“I imagine him as a really nice person and somebody that would be really fun,” he said.

That February day, Eckert even asked his mother to go visit his father.

“He wanted to go see his dad,” said his mother Tiffany. “And he wanted to go by himself that day.”

Dailey, touched by the Eckert’s gesture, said he looks at the note he received each day.

“It’s incredible being recognized in such a manner,” he said, adding that the child’s simple gift has provided him “a lifetime of direction.”

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