The U.S. mail carrier delivered some official correspondence to James K. "Jim" Sevick last Saturday.
A hand-written letter from President George H. Bush is about as official as mail can get, said the 22-year-old Air Force officer, home on leave after graduating from the Air Force Academy.
The academy had invited Bush to deliver the commencement address at its graduation May 29. Each graduate received a presidential handshake along with a diploma.
Sevick said he thought that would be his only contact with the president. Three days later, he found he was mistaken.
As a farewell gesture to their college years in ColoradoSprings, Colo., the 968 graduates tossed their cadet caps into the air. Bush caught one of those caps, read Sevick's name inside and wrote the newly commissioned second lieutenant a note of appreciation.
After graduation, Sevick forgot about his cap and focused on a visithome with his parents, James Sr. and Sue, and his sister, Leona, a student at Western Maryland College.
A plain brown envelope, with "The White House, Washington" as its return address, arrived in the family's mailbox and made the memory of graduation a little sharper.
At first, thinking he was receiving a congratulatory form letter, Sevick didn't get too excited.
That nonchalance quickly turned to shock and surprise, he said, as he opened a personal letter from his commander-in-chief.
He found "congratulations," as well as a "thank you" for the invitation to the graduation.
With the letter dated "The day after," Bush also returned a $1 bill Sevick had folded into the rim of his cap.
"I have your cadet hat. I am returning your dollar," wrote the president. "I loved being at your graduation.
"Inspired by you and your classmates, I wish you all the best as you serve your country as an Air Force officer."
The letter was signed "Good Luck, George Bush."
Sevick dashed off a thank-you note of his own, telling the president he was honored to hear from him and wishingBush continued success and good health.
Sevick said he will have his letter and the dollar framed while he is home for a 60-day leave.
He plans to take the letter with him when he leaves here to beginpilot training at Williams Air Force Base in Phoenix, Ariz.
"Thisis something you keep your whole life," he said. "I'll have it to show my grandchildren."
Sevick, a 1987 graduate of De lone High School in McSherrystown, Pa., said he sees a lot more travel in the future as he continues his career in the Air Force.
"I have wanted to fly since I was a student in junior high," he said. "I am eager to getstarted."
Encouragement from the president, he said, is a great incentive.
"How many people ever hear directly from the president?," he said. "I feel lucky to say I did. Out of 968 caps, the presidentcaught mine and then took the time to write to me."