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 and 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 me.

‘Petawawa. We’ll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we’re being deployed to Afghanistan.’

After flying 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 my neighbor 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 brother 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 yours with 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 Aircraft Pilot 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 the leader 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 his country for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’

That is Honor, and there are way too many people who no longer understand it.


Advertisements

About dilipnaidu

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are reading, music, growing culinary herbs, playing golf and yoga. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

10 responses »

  1. dilipnaidu says:

    Dear Santosh,

    This is a beautiful comment that resonates with the theme of the article above.

    Thank you very much I appreciate and wish you a very happy 2010.

    Cheers 🙂

    Like

  2. Santosh says:

    Boy of sixteen years turns failure into success
    A young boy who was attending high school said to me, “I am getting very poor grades.
    My memory is failing. I do not know what is the matter.” I discovered that the only thing
    wrong with this boy was his attitude, which was one of indifference and resentment
    toward some of his teachers and fellow students. I taught him how to use his
    subconscious mind, and how to succeed in his studies.
    He began to affirm certain truths several times a day particularly at night prior to sleep,
    and also in the morning after awakening. These are the best times to impregnate the
    subconscious mind. He affirmed as follows: “I realize that my subconscious mind is a
    storehouse of memory. It retains everything I read and hear from my teachers. I have a
    perfect memory, and the infinite intelligence in my subconscious mind constantly reveals
    to me everything I need to know at all my examinations, whether written or oral. I radiate
    love and good will to all my teachers and fellow students. I sincerely wish for them
    success and all good things.”
    This young man is now enjoying a greater freedom than he has ever known. He is now
    receiving all “A’s.” He constantly imagines the teachers and his mother congratulating
    him on his success in his studies.

    Like

  3. Bob Getz says:

    Dear Professor Naidu,

    First of all I am proud that my response will follow that of my good friend, Imon Ghosh. He is quite a young man himself. He has given me information so that I may meet you at some point before you leave,

    I to, share your love for the soldiers of all countries, not just ours. It is truly a noble and unselfish calling. I never pass up the opportunity to thank one of soldiers, even in a crowded elevator, to extend my hand and say in an elevated tone, “Thank you very much for your service.” It makes evrybody’s day in that elevator but it is very special to the soldier.

    Imon said it all in his reply. I am anxious to meet a man of your character. We made a lot of them in the ’40’s, and ’50’s. It is time to start again. Your gift came back to you plus $25 and you were able to give again. You are an excellent example of “paying it forward.”

    God Bless,

    Bob

    Like

    • dilipnaidu says:

      Dear Bob, I happened to see your comment on my blog post today 22 March and therefore the delay in my response. Firstly my thanks for the sentiments expressed by you about a soldier’s profession. Secondly the story narrated was one that was picked up from an email being circulated. It was aimed at glorifying the military as a noble profession. No doubt it is very touching. I am myself an ex Army person from the Indian Army. It was indeed very gracious of Imon to introduce me to you. I am grateful for your response. It will my honor & privilege to meet or connect with you. With my warm regards to you. Dilip

      Like

  4. Imon Ghosh says:

    I salute your noble gesture.

    God bless you.

    With all good wishes,

    Imon

    Like

  5. Ved Parkash Ojha says:

    Sorry sir
    no hello, no hi!
    just a streching salute to you sir!

    its a incredible deed, this made me emotional,
    i would like rather i should say “i will” share this moment with every individual who cares for their family always, bcoz, its all bcoz of u all who makes us feel free 24 x 365 n spends all its freedom on “we” the ordinary ones.

    HATS OFF TO U N UR INCREDIBLE SOLDIERS SIR!

    Like

  6. Dilip Naidu says:

    Well said RB! Fortunately the military world wide shares the same ethos!

    Bandi … I admit I too felt the same! Such moments are rare but perhaps touch our souls

    Dilip

    Like

  7. Dilip Naidu says:

    bandi kanna
    Director – Accenture Account at Jones Lang LaSalle

    Hi Sir,
    The blog brought tears in my eyes. We feel quite small thinking that we do not do much for our brothers in arms. We are safe and have sound sleep becuase they are awake and guarding us through the night.
    hats off to the soldier and to his community.

    Bandi

    Like

  8. Dilip Naidu says:

    RB Patil
    Lt Col Indian Army

    A touching article indeed.I have received it as a fwded mail too.The quote below from the article says it all:
    “A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to his country for an amount of ’up to and including my life.’
    That is Honor, and there are way too many people who no longer understand it.”

    Like

  9. Raman says:

    That was very touching and a very thoughtful deed. Being from the Armed Forces, I do understand what the soldiers must have felt and all I can say is that good deeds (done unselfishly and without expectancy of return) do get accounted for and it matters in life.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s