A Gratitude Story

A Gratitude Story

Today we wanted to share a famous story of gratitude, originally told by the renowned radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey. The story is about the famed World War I and II hero Eddie Rickenbacker, who in October 1942 had become lost at sea.

Captain Rickenbacker was flying the B-17, known affectionately as the Flying Fortress, on a top-secret mission to deliver a time-sensitive message to Gen. Douglas MacArthur. 

Because of a faulty navigation instrument, Rickenbacker and his crew missed their target by hundreds of miles and found themselves in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. 

With the fuel eventually running out, the crew was forced to ditch the massive plane. They escaped in life rafts having only enough food for three days.

They were stalked by sharks, and in danger of being spotted by Japanese aircraft, but the greatest threat in the ensuing days came from starvation. On the eighth day, a miracle appeared. 

The crew had begun their morning routine with prayer and the singing of a hymn. But the oppressive heat and repetitive rocking of the sea eventually lulled Rickenbacker to sleep. 

It was then that he felt the sensation of something on his head. For a moment, perhaps, the captain imagined it was a dream. It was in fact, however, a seagull that, hundreds of miles from shore, had landed right on top of him.

When Rickenbaker opened his eyes, he noticed the astonishment of his crew. It was as though hope had descended from above. Miraculously, he grabbed the bird, and soon it was cleaned and consumed. What’s more, the scraps were used as bait, and the fish that were caught sustained the crew for nearly a month until they were rescued.

Though seasons would come and go and decades would eventually pass, Capt. Rickenbacker never forgot that day his life was saved. 

Until his death 30 years later, he could be seen at sunset hobbling down an old wooden pier, a bucket of shrimp in hand, feeding the seagulls in gratitude. A tribute to the one that gave its life so that he might live.

If this story of gratitude has inspired you and you want to exercise your gratefulness, here are 12 ways to practice gratitude instantly.