Monday, November 16, 2009

Honoring Those Who Really Serve Our Country

For this little story, the author is unknown. A belated Veteran's Day thought:

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 there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November: National Alzheimer's Disease Month

Excerpted from the Senior Living Network (Fresno)2009 Fashion Show Luncheon Fundraiser Program--- National Alzheimer's Disease Month is an annual, national observance that was established by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. The observance began as a way to increase public awareness and Federal research funding with the goal of finding treatments and cure for Alzheimer's disease

I just found this poem to be very moving:

by Tim Johnson

She shaves his face, she combs his hair,
She helps him find his rockin'chair.
She cooks his meals, she wipes his mouth
And the window that he's lookin' out.

She reads him books, she speaks his hame
Oh, every day is much the same.
She sights that sigh from deep within.
The one that says she misses him.

She misses his gentle touch.
And the way he used to make her laugh.
She misses the man he was
In all those old photographs.
So strong, so kind, so sweet, so smart.
The man who stole her very heart...
She misses him.

His children come on Saturday.
There at his feet his grandkids play.
It's sad they don't know him at all,
He's just the one they call Grandpa.

The take out his trash, they mow his lawn,
Things he can't do since he's been gone.
She's grateful that they're pitchin' in.
And like everyone, she misses him.

And yes, they're still together after all these years
But sometimes you can almost feel
The sadness in her tears
The man who stole her very heart, she misses him.

...Senior Living Network (Fresno) raises funds and community awareness through education about Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias. The proceeds this year will benefit: Alzheimer's Foundation of Central California, UCSF-Fresno Alzheimer's & Memory Center, Valley Caregiver Resource Center-OASIS