Building on a theme, we saw the arrival of Eula Lee and Laura Ling back in the United States of America at approximately 6AM PST today.
As I had expected (and somewhat feared) there are already a wide variety of opinions on how this whole situation was handled. Those with loved ones still held overseas are wondering why not their family members, policy wonks are fearful of what the actions of President Clinton may bring about in our relations with other countries, and politically - well, political fiends always manage to make a hullabaloo about everything...
But the truth remains, after approximately 140 days of being held against their will, two women are home tonight with their families. To my knowledge, we do not yet know the extent of their experiences, nor do we know if Eula and Laura even know how this has impacted them. But, what I do know is that tonight I revere their strength and emotional fortitude to withstand such a grueling, fear laden experience in a land that is not their own full of customs, laws and societies that they didn't understand fully.
I may have shared with some of you that when I was in Europe recently on my own, the trip was wonderful but somewhat empty because I had noone to share it all with - to lean on for good and bad. I can't imagine that experience magnified through only negative experiences of being convicted and held captive in a foreign place.
The sight of Linda and Eula reunited with their families today brought tears to my eyes and, as journalists kept saying "for almost 5 months" "for 140 days" I tried to imagine being in their shoes. I couldn't. These women found something in them and their lives to center them among what, in their words, was the "worst time of their lives". I commend them for not giving up, and I acknowledge them for finding the relief of their release and return to their families today.
For whatever it was in each of you that got you through your time in North Korea and whatever it is in you that will allow you to reconnect with your lives and continue to find purpose and meaning, I am thankful that you are here Linda and Eula and I am glad that you are, tonight, and hopefully every night here after, with those you love.
3 weeks ago