Operation Stand Down is an organization that provides assistance to veterans so that they can rejoin society productively. It is a really good cause and an important one. Our veterans deserve this help to readjust to the society we live in, after experiencing whatever horrors they have had to face. I was happy to bid on a seat. Plus there was breakfast and I like food so it had that going for it too.
Now the other attraction was Tony Mendez. Last year there was a film that came out called, "Argo." This was by far my favorite film of the year. It centers on the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran. I vividly remember this crisis as a kid. I remember the news footage of hostages with hoods on their heads, the failed helicopter rescue, the start of tying yellow ribbons around trees, and just the absolute horror of American civilian hostages that went on and on and on. One group of hostages was held for over 400 days. Then there were the 6 that got away...with a little help.
Tony Mendez is the hero of this story. He devised a plan to extract the 6 Americans that escaped from the embassy. The film follows the crazy plan, the anxiety, the fear, and the danger. The very real, terrifying danger. Tony put his life in peril to save these people. In the U.S. Tony was a guy in charge. He could have sent somebody else to do it, but he didn't. In short Tony Mendez is a hero. That is one reason I was so excited to meet him. The other reason? To me, Tony also represents all the men and women who do things for this country that we will never know about unless a book is written, or a movie is made about them. Tony represents the unsung heroes of our country.
The keynote address at the breakfast was a strange mock interview set up with Tony and his wife, that was intercut with many clips from the movie. In short, it was a little odd. Tony really didn't say much and his wife did most of the talking. I felt like there was something else going on that the audience wasn't privy to. Based on my own observations, I wondered if perhaps Tony is a shadow of his former self. At times I wasn't sure how cognizant he was.
At any rate after the keynote address was over, Tony and his wife sat at a table to sign his book. Of course, I had to get one and see if I could get my photo with him.
I was beyond thrilled. A charitable contribution to a wonderful cause, breakfast, an interesting (strange?) keynote address, a signed authored book by a hero, and a photo with said hero. It was a fantastic morning!