Sent to my desk from another, author unknown and supposedly true. For sharing during the holidays:

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. 'Chicago - to Great Lakes Base. We'll be there
for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Iraq '

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 Chicago, 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 Chicago ' 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, an 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 in Chicago 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.'