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Captain Explains the Gain of Sacrifice

In the book The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom tells the story of Eddie, a carnival maintenance worker who dies saving the life of a little girl. In heaven he meets five people who had been part of his life.

The second person he meets was captain of his army unit in Vietnam. For the first time Eddie learns the captain died saving his life. As they reminisce about their time together, the captain talks about the significance of the sacrifices each of them made.

"Sacrifice," the Captain said. "You made one. I made one. We all make them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost. You didn't get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. A mother works so her son can go to school. A daughter moves home to take care of her sick father. A man goes to war…"
He stopped for a moment and looked off into the cloudy gray sky.
"Rabozzo (a member of their unit who died in captivity) didn't die for nothing, you know. He sacrificed for his country, and his family knew it, and his kid brother went on to be a good soldier and a great man because he was inspired by it. I didn't die for nothing, either. That night, we might have all driven over that land mine. Then the four of us would have been gone."
Eddie shook his head. "But you…" He lowered his voice. "You lost your life."
The Captain smacked his tongue on his teeth. "That's the thing. Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else."

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