True story: Lt. John Blanchard was a young soldier in basic training during the Vietnam War.  One evening while reading a book he borrowed from the post library, he was impressed by notes in the margins.  The handwriting looked feminine and was quite intriguing.  He flipped to the front of the book and saw that the last person reading it was named Halace Manel.  Through a little research, he found that she lived in upstate New York, and he wrote her a litter.  The following day he was sent to Vietnam, where he served for 13 months.

During that time, Lt. Blanchard and Miss Manel corresponded regularly, and both realized they were falling in love.  He asked in one of his letters, “Would you send me a picture of yourself?” to which she replied, “If you love me, it really wouldn’t make any difference what I look like.”

Finally, they arranged to meet at Grand Central Station on a certain evening at 7 PM.  To identify each other, she would wear a rose he would carry a copy of “their” book.  It was one minute until 7, and his heart was pumping with anxiety.  He straightened his uniform and looked ahead as an extremely attractive young lady came into view.  Slender and blond, and wearing a pale green sit, he thought she was beautiful.  He started walking toward her and then suddenly realized she didn’t have a rose.  As she passed him, she said, “Going my way soldier?”

He then saw a woman with a rose.  Well past 40, with graying hair tucked under a worn hat, her face was plump but gentle, and her eyes were warm.  He later said, “Part of me wanted to split.  The faithfulness to this woman who had corresponded with me kept me alive for 13 months, yet the beauty of the other one was compelling.”  The soldier, gripping his book, walked toward her and said, “You must be Miss Manel.  I”m Lt. Blanchard, and I’m so happy to meet you.  May I take you to dinner?”  The woman’s face broadened with a smile and she said, “Soldier, I don’t know what this is all about, but that lady in green who just passed by begged me to carry this rose and said if you invited me to dinner to tell you she’s waiting for you in the restaurant across the street.  Is this some kind of test?”

A test indeed.  A test of loyalty, in fact.  Would he remain faithful to this “complete stranger” who literally kept him alive for more than a year, or act as if he didn’t notice the older woman holding the rose?  What would you have done in Lt. Blanchard’s place?  Just as this womwn’s motivational letters inspired him for 13 months, and caused him to realize in a moment of truth that he was loyal to her, so must we realize we must remain loyal to what is important to us, whether it’s our job, our family, our community or our country.  Every Boy Scout knows this.  It’s in their oath.  Loyalty taks many forms - giving honest work for honest pay, being there for our kids or spouses even when it is inconvenient or when it requires passing up doing something else you’d like to do.  It means voting and then supporting the successful candidate whether you voted for them or not.

Lt. Blanchard passed his loyalty test.  What about you?  Till next time - let me paraphrase Shakespeare. “to thine own self be loyal, and it must follow, as the night follows the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

t the la     © Dick Caldwell 2012