Monday, November 12, 2012

Thank You, Canada - Entry #22

Last week I saw the movie Argo, which is probably one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.  The setting is Iran during the takeover of the American Embassy and subsequent hostage crisis in the late 1970’s.  The drama, tension, and attention to detail make this a must-see flick.  I was in college during this confrontation and remember the time vividly—Ted Koppel on ABC-TV starting the late night Nightline broadcast to update viewers on the day’s events, the disastrous rescue in the desert, and the general hostility and distress felt by the populace and U.S. government. 

[Spoiler Alert—if you do not know the plot of the movie please stop reading.]

I also recall attending the ticker tape parade down Broadway for the returned hostages.  I was in graduate school in New York City and wanted to show my support for these individuals.  It was also a way to release the pent-up frustration we all had during the 444 days of the takeover.  I remember being very patriotic at the time.  The one fuzzy part during the crisis was the announcement, one day that six Americans had hid out in the Canadian Ambassador’s home, were spirited out of Iran, and were now safe.  Upon hearing the news reports I thought, somehow, they were just fortunate enough to escape to the Embassy of our northern neighbors, lay low for a while, procure Canadian passports, board a plane, and fly home.  I never really gave it a second thought.  Now that Argo has been released we all realize otherwise.  Without the bravery and cunning of CIA agent Tony Mendez, his Hollywood support team, and countless others, not to mention the Canadian Ambassador and his wife, these six individuals would have been hunted down and forced to join their fellow State Department workers in captivity. 

I remember saying a private thank you to Canada.  I didn’t dwell too much on their flight to freedom since so little information had been revealed.  With the true story now being seen by millions on screen I know differently.  When Argo ended the mostly older audience clapped.  They silently stood as the credits rolled.  I believe people in the theater were silently reliving that time, honoring the bravery and sacrifice of all the hostages.  It was quite a solemn and moving moment, one I had never felt before after watching a motion picture.

I also felt like calling the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. or sending them a telegram thanking them for what the Ambassador and his wife did those 30+ years ago.  While it was the American CIA that thought of the crazy scheme known as Argo, it was the Canadian husband and wife that sacrificed much if they were caught or implicated.  Let’s not even think of the international incident their involvement would have caused. 

So, I wrote a short note to the current Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer.  I told him how the movie had dredged up memories from the past.  Now that I knew the full story I wanted to thank his country, more formally, for all it did those many years ago.  I hope it’s not necessary to return such a favor one day.

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