Inner Peace Moment: Sack Lunches

On Friday, I’m leaving for Texas to visit my brother Bill and his family. My brother is a Major in the US Army, and heading back to Iraq for his second tour in January.

When I read this…I immediately wanted to share it here. I don’t know who wrote this…but, perhaps it will stir some inner peace for you.


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.

“Great Lakes Air 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 the 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 the 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 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 ‘up to and including my life’. That is HONOR, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.”


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5 Responses to “Inner Peace Moment: Sack Lunches”

  1. Mike Smith

    If you ever do find out who wrote this, please do email me and let me know. Absolutely beautiful story.

    Please tell your brother I wish him safety when he returns to Iraq. I saw your tweet and retweeted. I fully support anyone serving for this country, and my prayers are with your brother and all of his brothers in arms.

  2. Carol Dickson-Carr

    Mary, this was so incredibly inspiring to read! These are those quintessential pay-it-forward moments I love to find out about. 🙂

    It truly resulted in multiple wins! Thanks for sharing.


  3. Joshua

    I love this story, if we all took the time to perform selfless acts such as this person did the world would be so much better. Try it once, you’ll do it again and again. Next time you’re in line at a drive thru or a toll booth spend just a bit more and take care of the person behind you, you never know when you’ll be the person behind. Thank you so much for sharing it Mary!

  4. Catherine

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. I was once in the airport in Atlanta when a long string of service people, well over a hundred kids, walked through to their plane.

    It was Christmas time and the airport was packed. Someone near us started to clap and I stood up immediately, soon everyone was standing. I was so moved by the immediacy of the support people hold in their hearts when they have a way to respond.

    Have a good visit with your family.


  5. Mayumi

    Good morning!

    I am very new to your blog and I am loving it. All your posts are so practical and relevant!

    I especially loved this one. This story is so touching and pierced right through me because I am a veteran. I have personally been in many situations when I experienced genuine gratitude from total strangers just for the mere fact of my enlistment. People would come up to me and shake my hand just to say “thank you.” It was no sack lunch – but the feeling was just the same.

    As a servicemember, you never feel like you are sacrificing anything more than anyone else would, so it’s always a little surprising when people want to say or do nice things just for your service.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story and consider me a dedicated fan!

    Oh and a note to all: Please remember that soldiers and sailors come in the female form as well.. make sure you give them a pat on the back sometimes, too.

    Let’s make this the best year of our life!



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