Friday, December 02, 2005

Lest We forget

With the approach of the Christmas (yes I, a devout agnostic, used the C word) season we should remember a Christmas in 1979 when the staff of our embassy in Tehran was imprisoned by adherents of the "great religion of peace" on the watch of the president who gave away the Panama Canal.

"December 1979: Christmas comes for the Great Satan

by Mark Bowden

But there were also heroes. Embassy staffer Michael J. Metrinko was one of those:

Michael Metrinko spent the holiday as he had spent all his days since the first week of the takeover, locked in a windowless basement storage room by himself. He had been invited to the Christmas party, but he wanted no part of a propaganda show. When his guards brought him a gift from the ceremony, a plate of turkey and stuffing, cookies, and decorated marshmallows, the food was tempting; Metrinko was hungry, but he was galled by how self-congratulatory his captors seemed, how generous and noble and proudly Islamic. He accepted the plate, and when they left him alone to eat, he sat staring at the food.

Then he knocked on the door and said he needed to use the toilet. When the door opened, Metrinko emerged holding the gift plate before him. He marched down the hall into the bathroom and dumped the contents into the toilet bowl. He made sure the guards saw him do it.

They were furious with him. He had insulted their hospitality and kind intentions. He was crazy! When they shoved him back into his room and slammed the door shut, Metrinko felt a momentary pang at having lost the meal. What a glorious treat he had denied himself! But his remorse was nothing next to the pleasure he took in delivering the insult. It had hit home and wounded them, and that was something that gave a more lasting pleasure than the food ever could have."

It is important that we remember who the heroes were, and who they were not. Mark Bowden has helped us do that.


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