Thank You! (3/18/14)

 Old Guy and a Bucket of Shrimp 
   
      This is a wonderful story and it is true. You will be pleased
that you read it, and I believe you will pass it on.  It is an important
piece of American history.
   
      It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the
sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.
   
      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 shrimp.
   
      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 pier.
   
      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 place.
      
      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.
          
      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 gratitude.