I didn’t know Irving Smith all that well, but I learned an awful lot at his funeral. As my wife, Cathy, and I huddled with other mourners beneath a tent stretched above to shield us from the heat, I heard of Irving’s years in the Navy and his subsequent service for 25 years as an air traffic controller at Tampa International Airport. In accordance with the aviation theme of the deceased and many of those assembled, a helicopter battered the air above us, drowning out some of the eulogists. As if on cue, the helicopter departed — I never did see what it was — and the air became quiet as an Air Force KC-135 glided almost silently toward MacDill Air Force Base. This was fitting because it flew over just as Irv’s son Phil, resplendent in his Air Force major’s uniform, presented the folded American flag to his mother, saying, “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Navy and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” Phil is my friend and the reason we were there.