Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Good Soldier

"It was gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred. "Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food . . . if I could catch it." And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice.

He never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset, on a lonely stretch along the eastern Florida seacoast, you could see an old man walking . . . white-haired, bushy-eye browed, slightly bent. His bucket was filled with shrimp to feed the gulls, to remember that one, which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle."

--Paul Harvey

Just as Eddie Rickenbacker never forgot the gull that gave its life, we should never forget the soldiers of our country who gave up their lives. Eddie got a second chance at life, and because many brave men and women have died in the armed services fighting for our country’s freedom.

We too have a chance at life – a life of freedom. Both freedom and life never come without a price. The blood of many fine soldiers paid for the freedom that we have today, just as the blood of the tiny lamb of the Passover paid for the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelites. A price has to be paid for freedom and life, and that price is the death of another. Someone, or something, has to die in order that we might live.

On May 30th in America, we observe a day called "Memorial Day."

It is marked by parades, speeches; flags and flowers are placed on the graves of many servicemen.

It was first observed on May 30, 1868, for the purpose of decorating the graves of the Civil War Dead.

Now, it remembers all of those who died in the wars our nation has fought.

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