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 heade d?’ 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, 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 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 th e 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
> r espect 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.’

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