Who Packed Your Parachute?
By Franklin Schargel
In honor of Memorial Day, I am sharing this to honor the heroes in our armed forces who have given so much and continue to give. Thank you for making a difference.
Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, ‘ You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down! ‘How in the world did you know that?’ asked Plumb. ‘I packed your parachute,’ the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.
The man pumped his hand and said, ‘I guess it worked!’ Plumb assured him, ‘It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.’
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, ‘I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.’ Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, ‘Who’s packing your parachute?’ Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory – he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.
I am sending you this as my way of thanking you for your part in packing my parachute. And I hope you will send it on to those who have helped pack yours! Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word. Maybe this could explain it! When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do – you forward jokes. And to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for and guess what you get? A forwarded joke.
So, next time when you get a joke, don’t think that you’ve been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you’ve been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile, just helping you pack your parachute.
With hope in my heart and gratitude and love to all of you as well for packing my parachute. I am lucky to have people to send my jokes to. Thanks for raising me up!
To those in the front lines, whether in uniform or not -YOU ARE MY HEROES. THANK YOU FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
About the author
Franklin P. Schargel is a former classroom teacher, school counselor and school administrator who successfully designed, developed and helped implement a process that dramatically increased parental engagement, increased post-secondary school attendance and significantly lowered his Title 1 high school’s dropout rate. The U.S. Department of Education, Business Week, Fortune Magazine, National Public Radio (NPR) the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and The New York Times have recognized his work. In addition, Schargel served as the Education Division Chair of the American Society for Quality and helped develop the National Quality Award, the Malcolm Baldridge Award for Education.
Schargel is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer and author of thirteen best-selling books. His last published book: “Creating Safe Schools: A Guide for School Leaders, Classroom Teachers, Counselors and Parents” has been published internationally by Francis and Taylor, LLC. In addition, he has written over 100 published articles dealing with school reform.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.