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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. 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


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