Henry Wilkinson stood in the hallway of his Destin apartment wearing a black 101st Airborne Army T-shirt and a thin gold chain around his neck.
The walls were covered in art he had either painted or hand-made himself; a painting of a crouching cougar hung above the TV and two shell-framed mirrors flanked the cougar.
After a career as an Army paratrooper in charge of maintaining the electronics systems in UH-1 Huey helicopters, Wilkinson moved to Miami to work in the promotions department for TV Guide magazine.
“Back then the circulation was about 20 million a week,”
Wilkinson said. He pointed to a black-and-white photograph of him standing next to comedian and actor Jackie Gleason. In the picture, Wilkinson held a copy of TV Guide with a smiling Gleason on the cover. “That photo was taken in 1975.”
Above the photo of Jackie Gleason, Wilkinson posed in another picture with his arm around famous porn star Linda Lovelace.
“This was at the Playboy Club in Miami. I’ve never seen any of her movies,” Wilkinson said.
Amongst Wilkinson’s photographs and memorabilia, perhaps his newest prized possession is a letter embossed with the golden seal of President Donald Trump.
He felt moved to write Trump a letter in February regarding his thoughts on illegal immigration and the uptick of crime in America.
“Crime in Miami was so bad that I drove around with a gun,” Wilkinson said. “You couldn’t walk down the streets at night, especially on Miami Beach. I didn’t want to live like that.”
After his wife was mugged in Miami by Cuban immigrants, Wilkinson started to become more interested in law enforcement. He believes that immigration has a direct correlation on crime in the United States.
He said he was shocked when he received a reply in the mail from Trump a little over one month after sending his original letter.
In the response letter, Trump thanked Wilkinson for expressing his views on immigration policy.
“Immigration to the United States is a privilege, not a right,” Trump wrote, “The Federal Government has the responsibility to enforce all laws passed by Congress, to rigorously vet and screen all foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States, and to keep drugs, criminals, and terrorists from entering our country and threatening our citizens.”
Wilkinson said he believes that people need to speak out about enforcing laws to better control crime in the U.S.
“Trump is standing up and he’s doing two of the things that I suggested in my letter to him. He’s cutting back on foreign aid and he’s sending the National Guard to the Mexican border,” said Wilkinson.
In the next few weeks, Wilkinson said he’s planning to write Governor Rick Scott regarding similar issues on immigration and crime in Florida.