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.
'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 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
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
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. and 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 '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.'