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Long but worth the read


Calintay

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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 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 'The United States of

America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and to others are way too many

people in this country who no longer

understand it.'

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