The invisible heroes

Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

They were seniors, so I suppose they were used to being invisible. They were also veterans — a double-whammy. Add in the fact that most were from long-term care settings, and you have the perfect storm. These 13 relics of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were almost asking to be ignored.

He approached slowly. I didn't even see him at first. But suddenly there he was — a Superstar Politician, in the flesh at Reagan National Airport in Washington. 

I've been close to his kind before. I've been nearly trampled by a goose-stepping Newt Gingrich at an American Health Care Association convention, and locked hands with Michael Dukakis. I've caused fire to shoot from Nancy Pelosi's eyes, and been lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of Dick Gephardt discussing Medicare.  

But still, I'd never encountered one truly in the wild and near enough to touch — a real Presidential candidate, face caked in television make-up, hair frighteningly perfect, jaw elevated in a superior jut, staring with lizard-cold eyes at the departure info on the screen behind me. 

He stopped, he looked, and then he was gone, virtually tripping over our cluster of veterans in wheelchairs to get to his escalator. I really don't think he ignored them on purpose — he just didn't know they were there. 

Had he lowered his chin a mere 45 degrees and been willing to make eye contact, he would have seen a circle of patriots who actually did something for their country. Who had no interest in vapid speeches and superficial swagger.  

These days, it's become sadly commonplace to see a politician stepping over, on or around the people they've pledged to serve in the quest to fulfill their own selfish ambitions. But still, I wish I had said something. And hindsight being 20-20, I know what it should have been.

“Would you like to meet some real heroes, Senator Cruz?”