90. "Semper Buy"


Semper Fi means Always Faithful. It's the motto of the Marine Corps, which is a segment of the US Navy. The Marines do whatever the federal government tells them to do, and the government always talks about how important the Marines are and how grateful the government is. So when a former marine, James Reid, recently applied for a Purple Heart for a wound that he received while serving in the Korean War more than 50 years ago, he expected no problems. But a Navy official said that they had no more Purple Hearts. If Reid wanted one, he could buy it at a military supply store. "They're only $42," said Arthur Chertoff. "It's not exactly like buying a new car."

However, the 75-year-old Reid subsists on a military pension that barely covers his rent. His daughter and son send him money for food, transportation, and other expenses. "Well, then, let your kids pay for it," Chertoff said when Reid told him that he depended on his kids for living expenses. So Reid asked his son for $42 for the medal. His son got so upset about the ungratefulness of the Navy that he called the local newspaper.

The local newspaper printed a front page article about how the Navy couldn't be bothered to pay for and present Reid his Purple Heart 50 years after his injury. Network television news picked up the story. The Navy, of course, was immediately embarrassed. Somehow, officials found the money and the time to buy Reid his Purple Heart and even make a ceremonial presentation.

"We are always eager and happy to show that we take care of our own," said the broadly smiling Chertoff as he presented Reid the medal in front of TV news cameras. "Thank you so much for your service to your country."

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