Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Soldier and a Generous Few

Tonight, I watched a story unfold before me that is usually only told by preachers and politicians.

After almost five hours of sitting in an airport, waiting for fog to settle, a small group of passengers, including myself, boarded a huge plane bound for a line of stormy weather and, eventually, St. Louis. Barely one-third of the plane was occupied. I had a whole row of seats to myself. I marveled at how relaxed everyone seemed during boarding and preparation for take-off. Less people made it all seem less stressful. And everyone was so much friendlier.

Once all the luggage was stowed and people were seated, a flight attendant spoke over the intercom. She informed us that there was a soldier on board. A young man who looked barely old enough to vote or buy a beer. He was headed home from Iraq for the birth of his first child. His travel plans were arranged to get him to St. Louis but he needed a ride from the airport to Effingham, IL. The flight attendant asked if anyone was headed that way who could give the young man a ride. Nobody volunteered.

Suddenly another man stood up and walked to the front of the plane and soon enough another announcement was made. If we couldn't give him a ride, the flight attendant suggested, it might be nice if we could pay for one for him.

And the "offering cup" was passed. And people dropped twenty dollar bills in and some put in every little bit of cash they had. (This is a plastic world afterall.) I don't know how much money was collected but the cup surely runneth over.

Although, I didn't know the name of one other person on that plane, I felt proud to sit among that grateful and generous group of people. I was honored to be a part of them.

And I don't know the name of that soldier either... But I hope he's home safe.

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