Monday, June 9, 2014


 It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail,  when the sun
resembled a Giant Orange and was starting to dip into the blue

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his
bony hand was a bucket of shrimp.   Ed walks out to the end of the pier,
where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a
golden bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on
the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white
dots come screeching and squawking,

Winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering
and flapping wildly.   Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds.
As he does, if you listen closely, You can hear him say with a smile,
'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, A
few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs,
and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the
end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water,
Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say.   Or, to
onlookers, he's just another Old codger, lost in his own weird world,
feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They
can seem altogether unimportant ... maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and
Busters.   Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in
Florida . That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero in World War I, And
then he was in WWII.  On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, He
and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived,
Crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of
the Pacific.

They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger
and thirst.

By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were
hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were or even if they
were alive. Every day across America millions wondered and prayed that
Eddie Rickenbacker might somehow be found alive.

The men adrift needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple
devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie
leaned back and pulled his Military cap over his nose. Time dragged on.
All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft...

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.  It was a
seagull!  Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning
his next move.  With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he
managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and
his starving crew made a meal of it - a very slight meal for eight men.
Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which
gave them food and more bait . . . and the cycle continued. With that
simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea
until they were found and rescued after 24 days at sea.

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot
the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull... And he never stopped
saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would walk to
the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of

PS: Eddie Rickenbacker was the founder of Eastern Airlines. Before WWI he
was race car driver. In WWI he was a pilot and became America 's first
ace.  In WWII he was an instructor and military adviser, and he flew
missions with the combat pilots.  Eddie Rickenbacker is a true American
hero.  And now you know another story about the trials and sacrifices that
brave men have endured for your freedom.

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