Claim: A traveler spontaneously purchased sack lunches for all the soldiers on his flight.
Example:[Collected via e-mail, October 2008]
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.
[Click here to expand text]
Origins: Variously titled "Just Lunch," "Act of Kindness," "The Sack Lunches," the story quoted above began circulating in the online world in August 2008. It was copied from the magazine
Renewed & Ready, Adventist Living for Today where it appeared in that publication's July 2008 issue titled "An Unforgettable Flight" and presented as having been written "by Beverly Brass (as told by Denny Kukich)." Denny Kukich, the man who had supposedly paid for the soldiers' box lunches, was further identified as hailing from Wood Dale, Illinois.
There are two differences between the original account and the story that has come to be circulated online. First, the original's opening paragraph contained an element that has subsequently been excised from the text: woven into the description of being seated on the plane was the teller's desire to "share Jesus" with a stranger, a motive that prompted him to strike up a conversation with the soldier seated nearby.
I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. This is 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 fly frequently; I always look for an opportunity to share Jesus with someone. I wondered who it could be because there were empty seats all around me. Not much of a chance to talk to anyone. Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and took the seats across the aisle and in front of me. More came. Still more ... Finally, ten soldiers filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. This is more like it! OK, Lord, which one will it be? Who needs to hear about you? I decided to start a conversation.
Second, while the original ends with "It seemed so little," the tale circulated online completes with a coda that was added by an anonymous person whose cyber hands the account passed through:
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.
As to whether the story is an accurate account of an actual event or a work of fiction meant to inspire its readers into acts of charity and appreciation for those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, that determination remains up in the air. We haven't been able to get in touch with Denny Kukich (either through the church or directly), and the tale contains precious little by way of checkable facts (such as when the flight took place, where it left from, and what airline was involved). Lacking those details, locating independent third-party confirmation via questioning people on that flight would be akin to hunting for a needle in a haystack.
However, factual or not, the tale's larger message about showing appreciation for members of the armed forces is a good one.
Barbara "let's do lunch" Mikkelson
Last updated: 9 March 2015
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