Capt. Donald R. Randall of the Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division asked me if I would be writing about the Heroes Golf Tournament this year.
I made the mistake of trying to kid him. "It's worth a paragraph or two," I said. "What do you want me to say."
"Gee," Don said solemnly, "if it's only going to be a paragraph or two, I'd better write it out and see what I can squeeze in. I'll call you."
I kept a straight face and waited. I could just see him struggling to include the dates (Thursday and Friday, July 7 and 8, for golf; Friday night, July 8, for the dinner-dance); the place (Indian Spring Country Club); the cost ($20 for golf, electric cart and all the beer, soft drinks and hot dogs one can consume on the course; $20 for dinner, dancing and entertainment; and a package deal of only $35 for those who sign up for both golf and the dinner).
Then, too, he'd have to say that all the proceeds go to Heroes, Inc. He'd have to explain what Heroes is, and how it used the $32,000 raised by last year's tournament. I knew he couldn't do it in two paragraphs.
Two days ago, Don delivered his squeezed-down version of what needs to be said. It went like this:
"First off, you have to tell people that Heroes, Inc., cares for the widows and children of all law enforcement officers and firefighters of this area who lose their lives in the performance of their duties.
"Then tell them that Heroes doesn't limit itself to financial help. It helps with every problem the surviving family encounters.
"During the past seven months alone, we lost three more fine young officers: Sgt. Michael Acri of the Metropolitan Police Department, shot and killed while investigating a domestic quarrel; Officer John W. Buckley of the Arlington Police Department, shot and killed during a bank holdup; and Detective Bruce W. Wilson of the Metropolitan Police Department, shot and killed during a narcotics investigation.
"The drain on Heroes' resources has been substantial. There are now 185 surviving children eligible for Heroes' scholarships that will see them through college, and it is estimated that $500,000 will be needed for this purpose alone over the next 20 years.
"This is why our golg tournament is so important. All the money we make from these tournaments goes into the Heroes scholarship fund.
"Each widow gets $2,500 within 24 hours of the tragedy, just to reassure her that she is not alone. Later, the widow is invited to meet with a Heroes committee that consists of various professionals - doctors, lawyers, bankers, and specialists in things like insurance and real estate. Whatever her problems, somebody in Heroes knows how to help her or find help for her.
"If she can't drive, she's taught. If she has no job skills, she's trained and helped to become self-sufficient.
"Be sure to mention that not one cent of the money given to Heroes is ever used for overhead or 'expenses.' Members of Heroes pay all expenses out of their own pockets.
"It would also help if you could work in the names of all the judges, congressmen, celebrities and athletes from the Redskins, Caps and Dips who will attend. See list enclosed.
"Golfers who want starting times can call Al Fenstomacher on 292-9370.
"And those who want to support us but can't be present can send tax-deductible checks made to the order of Heroes, Inc. Mail the checks to: Heroes Golf Committee, P.O.Box 1860, Washington, D.C.20013. You should also say something about the entertainment at the dinner, for which Bill Mayhugh will be MC. Can you get all that into two paragraphs?"
Sure, Don. For Heroes, Inc., we use rubber type and squeeze in everything we can think of that might motivate a reader to unbuckle his checkbook. In an era in which innocent people are taken hostage by terrorists, and police officers risk their lives to restore order, I can think of no better way to say "Thank you" than to show concern for the widows and orphans they leave behind.