Christmas day has passed. For a few years now, my attitudes have changed somewhat around this time of year. I still love Christmas time, I guess for traditions I grew up with and memories of my childhood, I still want to hold onto that feeling of hope for peace and happiness that many people feel during Christmas time. It seems though, no matter how hard I try, I can’t get into the same spirit anymore.
I don’t feel hopeless- because my Hope lies in my Lord and Savior, whose birth which is foretold about in Isaiah 9, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given is center of the season. While Jesus’ first coming resulted in His death on the cross for the sins of the world and victory over death, it is the Hope of Salvation in Him that I have. While I pray for peace, especially for our troops, my hope lies in Jesus’ return, also described in Isaiah 9, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
No earthly government will ever be perfect, truly just or righteous, but America, because of the Founders, who realized that if the people kept to the Biblical principles of freedom and justice for all, because all are created equal, America would always be at the forefront of fighting for and giving freedom for others all over the world.
Many patriotic Americans still promote and defend freedom for others. Our troops and some others still fight for people to be free. Many fight for unjust treatment of people by other nation’s regimes, but the Obama administration under his first and well into his second terms has done little to support those who help or those who defend others. Except for the usual press release rhetoric which may sound good they do very little to bring Americans home who are held as political prisoners or POWs. While I could revisit all I have already written about the dishonoring treatment of so many of our Veterans, and the continuous assault on their hard earned benefits, I want to instead focus on a few of those who did not get to spend Christmas with their families this year, nor have they had a taste of freedom for a more than a few years.
Back in May, I wrote about Pastor Saeed Abedini who is still held in a brutal Iranian prison for the ‘crime’ of threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches, even though his activities were being done at a time over a decade ago, when house churches were not considered a threat in Iran. Pastor Saeed is an Iranian born US Citizen, and has been held in Iran for over a year while his family and many organizations such as the ACLJ have been working for his release. They have also been pleading with the Obama administration to intervene, yet the administration has done nothing.
There is also Iranian-American born former Marine, Amir Hekmati who has been held in Iran for over 2 years since his arrest in Tehran in August 2011 while his family said he was visiting his grandmothers. In December 2011, Amir appeared on Iranian state television where he “confessed” to being a spy for the CIA. “For over two years I have been held on false charges based solely on confessions obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.” He wrote in a letter in early September which was smuggled out of the prison.
Hekmati’s family is hopeful that under Iran’s new president Rouhani it will be easier to negotiate with than Ahmadinejad. John Kerry and the State department have tried and failed so far to implore the Iranian government to release Amir, not considering that while the presidential regime has changed the power in Iran still remains with Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ‘supreme leader’. While the Obama administration has made and continues negotiations about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Amir’s family hopes they can keep Amir’s case in the conversations. Amir however implores the US not to give in to any trade off of Iranian prisoners for his own release.
Robert Levinson is a former FBI agent who was on a mission which U.S. intelligence officials later described as a rogue CIA operation. He traveled to the Iranian island of Kish in March 2007 to investigate corruption at a time when he was discussing the renewal of a CIA contract he had held for several years. He also inquired about getting reimbursed for the Iran trip by the agency before he left. He has not been seen in person since.
E-mails and other documents suggested he had gone to Iran at the direction of certain CIA analysts who had no authority to run operations overseas. Since his disappearance Levinson’s whereabouts remain unknown. Investigators don’t even know whether he’s still alive. Although about three years ago his family received a video of him and later pictures of him. If he is still alive, Robert Levinson would be 65 years old. His wife has even flown to Tehran to pass out fliers written in Farsi, and hired an attorney there to file paperwork urging the government to open an investigation.
In a statement released earlier this month, Levinson’s family said the U.S. government has failed to make saving his life a priority. “It is time for the U.S. government to step up and take care of one of its own. After nearly 7 years, our family should not be struggling to get through each day without this wonderful, caring, man that we love so much.”
Warren Weinstein is an American who was kidnapped in Pakistan by al-Qaida more than two years ago. Weinstein was the country director in Pakistan for a U.S.-based firm that advises Pakistani business and government sectors and was abducted in Lahore in August 2011. A video was released a few days ago to reporters in Pakistan in which Weinstein asks the U.S. government to negotiate his release. “Nine years ago I came to Pakistan to help my government, and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here and now when I need my government it seems that I have been totally abandoned and forgotten.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf later said that U.S. officials were “working hard to authenticate” the contents of the message. “We reiterate our call that Warren Weinstein be released and returned to his family.”
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said in a statement issued in December 2011 that Weinstein would be freed if Washington stopped launching air strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen and demanded the release of all imprisoned members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Bowe Bergdahl has been a POW since he was captured in Afghanistan on June 30th 2009 by members of a Taliban allied insurgent group. What makes Bowe’s case so disturbing is that on July 29th of this year, it was quietly reported the Obama administration released 5 Taliban terrorist detainees from Guantanamo as a gesture that they were open to negotiations towards peace in Afghanistan- yet they never worked on Bowe’s release! Now, not only do negotiations continue with the Taliban, but our forces in Afghanistan are still under assault by members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups as the long announced plan of withdrawal time comes closer. This Christmas day marked Bowe’s 1,640th day in captivity and over 4 years since his family has been able to have their son home.
More than 83,000 troops remain unaccounted for in America’s wars dating back to World War II, according to the Defense Department. The Pentagon also tracks attendance at regular updates it holds for family members of those who are missing. That number has grown from roughly 200 in 1996 to just over 1,000 this past September.
These are only five stories out of thousands. I guess it’s not only my attitude that has changed, but my awareness of things going on not only in the US but around the world, and that awareness can’t shut itself down for Christmas. I can’t help but think about Americans left behind, the thousands of men who may or may not be alive, men we will never know about, but are remembered every day of the year by their families and friends. I can’t help but see the attitude by so many in our government, who haven’t done nearly enough to bring some of these men home, yet they have no problems sending them out into the world to dangerous situations on behalf of a ‘noble cause’.
I just finished reading a book by a friend of mine called The Mailman Went UA (A Vietnam Memoir). In it, David talks about politicians who make the decisions, saying “The decision makers spoke about demonstrating honor, glory, sacrifice (for the good), pride, Country, etc., and were quite persuasive and eloquent, but it is easy to be this way when you are sitting on a sterile perch. “
At one time in America, those who fought in wars ended up serving in higher office. General George Washington was the first and realizing men’s propensity to crave more power, became America’s first president on the condition that he serve only two terms. With a government comprised of people who have never seen combat, the majority never even have served in the Military at all, it is disturbing to think of how many men and women’s lives are in the balance serving overseas, and more disturbing to think of so many who have never been brought home.
I can’t forget these people; not on Christmas, or any other day. They deserve to be brought home. Their families deserve to have them brought home.