Sunday, July 13, 2008

"We Remained Free"

Anyone who has read my blog these last few years, know that it was stories that I read about the sacrifice and love that occurred during the holocaust that affected me so as a young adult.

It wasn't just the horror that captivated me. It was the fierceness of the human spirit. I am constantly amazed at how some people handle the harshness of life. From people like Tony Snow who faced death, yet remain one of the most optimistic people in Washington D.C., to every day people who face adversity, pain, and hardship with grace and dignity. I have seen it over and over in my life, and there is nothing that I admire more.

Which brings me to the American hostages that were recently freed from Columbia's Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as FARC). Intelligence forces freed the hostages by tricking FARC.

The Americans were Marc Gonsalves, Thomas "Randy" Howes and Keith Stansell. I watched their interview on CNN today. I was impressed with the obvious affection they had for one another. They spoke of how each had kept the other strong. The entire story is fascinating, as you might imagine, but they described how they carved chess pieces and drew a chess board. It became a way to escape. But the next thing they said is what got to me the most. I'm paraphrasing, but this is close. "They tried to brainwash us. But we love our country. We remained free."

Even in their captivity, they knew that as Americans, they were free men.

The capacity of man to endure never fails to amaze me. I can only hope and pray that in similar circumstances I would be as strong as these captives were.

Sometimes I get discouraged by the evil in the world. I get discouraged by how low mankind can go to oppress or objectify or destroy innocent people. But then I am reminded by men like Marc, Randy, and Keith, that man can stand up to oppressors. I am reminded that man can be strong and endure under incredible odds.

I am reminded of our unending capacity to love and reach out to one another.

They said that once they have re-connected with family they will ride motorcycles across the country together to remind them of how great a country this is.

It is a dream they had during capture.

Ride free, my friends, Ride free.