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
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
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
seat belt 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.’
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.’