Chapter 5. A Pocket Full of Coins: Connecting with Bravery and Honor

On the sidewalks of U.S. cities—from Los Angeles to New York to San Antonio—masses of humanity pass each other, flash a smile, and continue on, heels click-clacking until the sound is swallowed up by the noise of the city. Walking into the distance, people disappear just like the smoke and exhaust coughed up by taxis and buses: out of your life in a second—if ever they were in it to begin with.

Sometimes I wonder about the people I pass. What's their destination? Who's waiting for them when they get there? What's life like in their shoes?

It's mind-boggling, when you take time to think about it, how we live parallel lives, occupying small squares of this globe, often never intersecting. We may exchange pleasantries and ask about vacation plans or deals at the market—but do we really connect anymore?

Perhaps you have heard about U.S. military coins; they originated in World War I when American volunteers from all over our country suited up for flying squadrons and pledged their lives for our country. As the story goes, a wealthy lieutenant had intricate bronze medallions embossed with his Marine Corps squadron's emblem, and kept them—one for each member of his squadron—close to his heart in a small leather pouch. With such a priceless symbol hanging at his chest, the lieutenant was alert and determined, buoyed by thoughts of those under his care.

One day the lieutenant's aircraft was badly damaged, forcing him to land ...

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