Monday, January 04, 2010

The Sack Lunches


As I prepare to leave for Alaska, I am thinking of once again being up in the air and hearing all the stories that my seat companions always seem to share with me. And I remember this one, from the news...because I, too, want to spend the rest of my life handing out...
"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 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 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.'

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.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting your story. It so illustrates your heart and your blog name :) Have a soul filled time in Alaska. We're here when you have time to blog. Thanks for the great blog posting to start my 2010 :)
    Nancy Sue

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  2. Your story brought tears to my eyes! Thanks for sharing it. I'll be thinking of you while you're in Alaska, and keeping you and your mom in my prayers.

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  3. Michele, I've seen this story before, but thank you for sharing it. It renews my soul and awakens me to always remember. I make it a practice whenever I am at the airport to watch for our service members. If one is behind me in the food line I prepay for their meal. If several are just waiting about I ask if I can buy them coffee or something to eat. They often travel without much money to get by on. It's the least I can do.

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  4. I remember this story; it touched my heart so very much. It should be posted regularly for everyone to remember about sacrifice and generosity, love and giving, and generally just about every good thing in life.

    May your trip to Alaska be as full of grace as this story.

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  5. What a wonderful story, it also brought tears to my eyes. This gives me renewed faith in mankind. I accidently deleted my last post, sorry!

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  6. What a delightful story. Thank you for buying these soldiers a sack lunch on the airplane and for sharing this story with us. Inspirational.

    Hugs, many hugs!

    SewCalGal
    www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

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  7. Thank you for caring for these soldiers. I have tears in my eyes. So many people don't truly understand what these men and women are doing for us.

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  8. I hadn't heard this story before so I'm glad you posted it. It brought tears to my eyes too.

    Thanks also for the info about Gwen's quilts being offered as tile art. Can you imagine a kitchen backsplash made up with some of those?! Fabulous!

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  9. Oh this made me cry. Hugs

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.