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Sack Lunches (* on the Veteran's Day)

2014.11.11 11:30

JohnPark Views:3702

      Sack Lunches

      I put my carry-on in the 
      luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned 
      seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm 
      glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will 
      get a short nap,' I thought.


      Just before take-off, 
      a line of soldiers came down the aisle and 
      filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding 
      me. I decided to start a conversation.


      'Where are you 
      headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to 
      me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two 
      weeks for special training, and then we're being 
      deployed to Afghanistan.


      After flying for about an hour, an announcement was 
      made that sack lunches were available for five 
      dollars. It would be several hours before we 
      reached the east, and I quickly
      decided a lunch 
      would help pass the time...


      As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if
      he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems 
      like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. 
      Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. 
      I'll wait till we get to base.'


      His friend agreed.

      I looked around at the 
      other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked 
      to the back of the plane and handed the flight 
      attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a 
      lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my 
      arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with 
      tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in 
      Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'


      Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the 
      soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and 
      asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or
      chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, 
      wondering why she asked. She turned and went to 
      the front of plane, returning a minute later 
      with a dinner plate from first class.


      'This is your thanks.'

      After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, 
      heading for the rest room. 
      A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to 
      be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me 
      twenty-five dollars.


      Soon after I returned 
      to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down 
      the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he 
      walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but 
      noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my 
      side of the plane. When he got to my row he 
      stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I 
      want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my 
      seatbelt I stood and took the
      Captain's hand. 
      With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier 
      and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought 
      me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never 
      forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was 
      heard from all of the passengers.


      Later I walked to the 
      front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A 
      man who was seated about six rows in front of me 
      reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He 
      left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.


      When we landed I 
      gathered my belongings and started to deplane. 
      Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man 
      who stopped me, put something in my shirt 
      pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a 
      word. Another twenty-five dollars!


      Upon entering the 
      terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their 
      trip to the base. 
      I walked over to 
      them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It 
      will take you some time to reach the base. 
      It will be about time for a sandwich. 
      God Bless You.' 
      Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and 
      respect of their fellow travelers.


      As I walked briskly to 
      my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe 
      return. These soldiers were giving their all for 
      our country. I could only give them a couple of 
      meals. It seemed so little...


      A veteran is someone 
      who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank 
      check made payable to 'citizens of United States / Canada '
      for an amount of 'up to and 
      including my life.'


      That is Honour, and 
      there are way too many people in this country 
      who no longer understand it.'

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