I received this in an email and it touched my heart so deeply that I wanted to share it with you all. This story reminded me of a time that my boys and I stopped at Carls’s Jr. for lunch one day. It was crowded and the kids from the local highschool were all hanging out there. These kids were boisterous and rude. They were dressed like punks with their pants falling down. I made my boys hold my hand because I was sort of frightened by the rowdy behavior of the teens. Standing in striking contrast to the teens was a young soldier who was waiting for his order. He was clean cut and handsome. The contrast between this self controlled neat looking soldier and the punkish kids was so remarkable that I never forgot it. It almost seemed like he did not belong there…as if he stepped out of another culture somewhere in time. I wanted to to shake the soldiers hand and thank him. I wanted to buy him lunch, but I was too shy. My own insecurities kept me from doing the right thing. I will always regret this, and now whenever I see a soldier, I stop and thank them. Next time I’m buying him lunch. ~Anne
The Sack Lunch
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…
‘Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.’