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The Sack Lunches

A friend of mine sent me this story. I don't know who wrote it, but I thought it was quite appropriate for this 4th of July weekend.

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 our destination, and I quickly decided that lunch would help pass the time. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard the soldier next to me 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 the 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're 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 would you like best — beef or chicken?"

"Chicken," I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of the 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 a 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. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, "I want to shake your hand."

Quickly unfastening my seat belt I stood and shook the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, I was a soldier and 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 just to 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 off the plane. 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'll take you some time to reach the base. It will be a bout 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, at least, 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 people in this country who no longer understand it!

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward