DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Say No to Land Mines, Says Most Interesting Man in the World

He may play "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in those ubiquitous, entertaining TV ads for Dos Equis beer, but yesterday Jonathan Goldsmith took on a much more important role - the actor served as the spokesperson for a Surviving the Peace" Landmines, Mortars, and Munitions photo exhibition at the Russell Senate building, a function which also served to celebrate the 25th anniversary of MAG (Mines Advisory Group).

Goldsmith has become the celebrity spokesperson for MAG, an international group dedicated to saving lives through removing and destroying buried landmines and other unexploded ordnance.

"These things are waiting. They are there. If we don't do anything, they will kill year by year," Goldsmith said. "They are waiting to create hell and unleash it on an innocent victim."

The actor said his commitment to the life-saving program was increased after he traveled with members of MAG to Vietnam (one of more than 35 countries with the problem) to actually help in the field with the project. "To be there and smell this and talk to the people who lived this experience ... you want to make sure to work so that these things will not cripple or take another life in the future. And fortunately, through groups like MAG, the numbers are decreasing,"Goldsmith said.

Sen. Leahy and Goldsmith chat
Goldsmith was joined by fellow Vermonter Senator Patrick Leahy, who has long been involved in anti-land mine projects.

Like Goldsmith, Sen. Leahy shared personal stories of his involvement with those whose lives had been changed forever by their encounters with the concealed, deadly horrors.

Leahy, who said he is returning to Vietnam later this month, explained "when you see it, you fully understand."

On one of his initial visits, Leahy encountered a small Vietnamese man whose legs had been blown off by a mine. "I thought he must see this large American and hate me.  They asked me to pick him up and put him in his wheelchair. And when I did, he pulled me down and kissed me."

Leahy said that without the work of groups like MAG, "there's very rarely a happy ending in these stories."

America has yet to sign the international land mine treaty, an action that Leahy strongly endorses.  "The United States, as the most powerful nation on Earth, we should sign the land mine treaty," he maintained.

Before and after the speeches, the audience examined the pictures which graphically captured the situation and MAG's work.

During the time allotted for those in attendance to view the photography exhibit, members of MAG circulated, handing out a card offering 4 simple ways people could get involved in the project:
  • schedule an office briefing
  • visit a mine- or UXO(unexploded ordnance) country
  • promote Mine Action Day (April 4th) on social media
  • host a screening of a Surviving the Peace film
Of course, while the subject of the night was somber, the fact that "The World's Most Interesting Man" was in attendance provided a note of frivolity. Government officials and high-ranking workers crowded Goldsmith to get their picture taken with him. (For the sake of full disclosure, as you can see here, I did too.)

But Goldsmith was very careful to point out that he was simply playing a character on TV. When asked how it feels to be the world's most interesting man, Goldsmith laughed and said. "You should ask my wife how interesting I am. She's around here somewhere."

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