Ralph Lower, 86, a Korean War veteran from Pekin, Ill., was flying to Washington, D.C., June 13 on an Honor Flight, one of the periodic convoys of U.S. military veterans to visit their war memorials.
“We were at 37,000 feet in the air,” Lower recently told ThePerryNews.com, “when they began to hand out packages they called ‘Mail Call.’ There were lots of thank you notes from children and other people in the mailbox.”
Among the letters was one “handwritten with pencil on a white poster paper size 25, I guess.” It was a letter from a Perry High School freshman who simply signed his letter “Jake.”
“It is difficult to explain how good that letter made me feel,” Lower said. “It takes time to give thought, but then to write it on paper makes it real! I don’t know how or why his letter was put in my mail call box, but I am very glad to have received it.”
Jake made several observations in his letter and said he was “very grateful for your service in your branch of the military.”
Lower said he was so grateful that he tried to reply in writing to Jake’s letter.
“I was so moved by his letter that I felt I should respond,” he said, “letting him know who received his letter and to say thank you for his kind words. I mailed a letter to the address on his letter and addressed it just, ‘To Jake,’ thinking it was his home address. I didn’t realize it was the address of the Perry High School.”
This is the text of the letter Lower sent “To Jake”:
I want to thank you for the fine letter you wrote to a veteran. I am the veteran that received your letter. I was impressed and humbled by your words. Your letter tells me that you were or are a freshman in high school.
You let me know a bit about you, and so I felt you should know who received your letter. You say you use to live in Texas? I was sent to Texas in April 1951 at the outbreak of the Korea conflict. It was Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas.
Your letter made me feel good! I am very pleased that such a young man as yourself would take time out to put pencil to paper offering gratitude. Thank you, Jake, for your kind words!
1 Williamsburg Court, Apt 1B
Pekin, IL 61554
When Lower discovered he sent the letter not to Jake but to PHS, he “tried to call the high school, but it was the holidays, and now summer vacation is in effect,” he said. “I felt bad because the address was wrong, and he would never know his words reached someone.”
That was when Lower reached out to ThePerryNews.com.
“My question is,” he said, “will you help to see that this student receives my reply? It was not my purpose to have this letter made public, but it might be the only way I can thank this young student called Jake and then thank everyone in Perry for raising outstanding young people as Jake.”
Lower’s gratitude fills nearly nine decades.
“I do want Jake to know his letter made me feel good,” he said. “The character of being American should be in all young people like it is in Jake. His letter speaks a lot about a town and people I have never seen.”
If any readers of ThePerryNews.com know the identity of Jake, please bring this story to his attention, and also please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can also meet this fine young representative of our town.