The 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.
 
‘Chicago – to Great Lakes Base. We’ll be there for two weeks for 
special training, and then we’re being deployed to Iraq ‘
 
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 Chicago, and I quickly decided a lunch would help 
pass the time.
 
As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he 
planned to buy lunch. ‘No, t hat 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 Chicago ‘
 
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, an 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 in Chicago 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 gi ving 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 ‘The United States of America ‘ for an amount 
of ‘up to and including my life.’ That is Honor, and there are way 
too many people in This country who no longer understand it.’
 

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2 Comments

  1. sam
    Posted November 19, 2008 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    someone seized his “<a href=”http://erwinmcmanus.com/chasingdaylight/” Divine Moment”.” Amazing story, thanks for sharing.

  2. Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Amazing story, thanks for sharing.


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