An interesting thing happened to me on a recent business trip. I was in Boston working with a client and after a long day I was just hanging out in my room flipping through the channels. I came across a movie called Taking Chance
on HBO that caught my attention. It was about a Marine who was responsible for bringing the remains of a fellow soldier named Chance Phelps to his family in Montana. The journey of these two soldiers was nothing short of inspirational. The obvious inspiration was that Chance gave everything as he protected the country that he loved. But it was the many other things that occurred during their journey back to Montana that really hit me – the reactions, and actions, of complete strangers toward Chance and his escort. It was the gate agent that recognized the situation and upgraded the escort to first class. It was baggage handlers that grew solemn and held their caps over their hearts as the coffin was loaded and unloaded from the planes. It was the flight attendant that handed the escort a cross (which he in turn gave to Chance’s family). It was the sight of the escort sleeping in the hangar during a layover so as not to leave Chance’s side. It was the words of encouragement from the pilot – an ex-Marine himself. The happenstance convoy that was created when Chance was being driven to his hometown - a line of cars falling in behind the hearse....not passing, lights on. Each act, I thought, was truly inspirational.
It was the simple acts of strangers that profoundly impacted the military escort. On his way home after bringing the soldier home to his family, he wrote about his experience over the past few days. When he got home, he sent his story to a few friends, who in turn sent it to more friends. Within days it had taken root on the Internet.
It’s amazing to think that those people, strangers to the escort, strangers to the fallen soldier, strangers to the situation, took a small moment of their lives to do something they felt necessary. Strangers impacting strangers – that’s what it’s all about. Not only did Chance inspire those along his journey home, but those individuals have inspired a multitude of others – all strangers to one another. Feels a little bit like the concept of “pay it forward” huh?
Anyway, I’m not sure I had any intent to share this until I got on the plane for my return flight home. I opened up the flight magazine (which I rarely do), flipped through the pages and came across a short article on – guess who - Chance. I guess I saw that as a sign – so, I grabbed my laptop and started writing.