The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 7, 2013

Miracle in Cleveland offers hope to families of the missing

They stare out at us from billboards, newspaper ads, posters, Web pages, even milk cartons.

They are always smiling, their eyes twinkling, their gazes earnest and open.

They are mostly young, many just children, but they are of every age, both sexes and a rainbow of colors.

Their one unifying trait is, they are missing.

Some vanished years ago, others more recently. Their absence has left a bottomless void in the lives of friends and family.

The most recent FBI statistics available are for 2011. On Jan. 1, 2012, there were 85,158 active missing person entries on the National Crime Information Center database. An astounding 2,300 adults and children are reported missing every day in the United States.

Some of them are names you know, like Kyron Horman, the boy who disappeared from his Portland, Ore., elementary school in 2010 at the age of 7. Most are names you don’t, like Barbara Blount, a 58-year-old Louisiana woman who went missing from her home in 2008.

When someone vanishes, their families and friends go through hell. The only thing that keeps them going is hope. But as the months and years pass, hope must inevitably begin to fade.

But then, something truly astounding happens, like it did Monday in a neighborhood near downtown Cleveland, when three women missing for about a decade were located.

Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight emerged from a nondescript home in which they had been prisoners for years. Berry and DeJesus were featured on the FBI’s list of kidnapped and missing persons. Tuesday, their photos appeared with the word “recovered” across the bottom.

Knight was not on the FBI’s list, however. Family members thought she had left home on her own in 2002 at age 18 because she was angry at losing custody of her young son.

Her mother never believed her daughter would simply walk away, never making contact with any members of her family. She never lost hope.

Hope is a powerful thing. It can help stave off the demons of despair, the icy needles of melancholy, the cold embrace of wretchedness that can leach into your soul.

Many missing persons cases end badly, with a visit from a grim-faced member of law enforcement and news reports of remains located in a shallow grave or found in some wild area.

But there are happy endings, like the case of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped in 1991 and found alive in 2009; Elizabeth Smart, kidnapped in June 2002 and located nine months later; Shawn Hornbeck, taken in October 2002 and found in January 2007; and others.

Look across the breakfast table at your family. Now imagine their chairs empty, imagine they are missing, gone without a trace. You can’t, of course. Those emotions come from dark places in our psyches we never want to visit, and can’t make ourselves, even if we try.

People all across the country live in those places, every hour of every day. Today, the families of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight have left those places behind, hopefully forever.

Many others are not so lucky, but the story of the three young women being found after a decade of captivity has lit the faint, flickering candle of hope, a small but warm beacon in the inky cavern of misery.

That flame of hope has been sparked, no doubt, in the hearts of those still searching for missing loved ones, as well as those whose photos stare silently from those posters, Web pages and billboards.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Going postal

    Waukomis residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard in regard to the future of their post office.

    July 22, 2014 1 Story

  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Stars in our eyes

    We caught the vision when, in May of 1961, John F. Kennedy told Congress, and the world, that the space race was no longer to be so one-sided.
    “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” he said.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up logo.jpg Thumbs up for northwest Okla. communities, where net taxable sales figures are up

    Net taxable sales were up $1,917,774 in Enid, when compared to sales reported in July 2013. The increase amounted to a 2.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patsy Sorrels.tiff The key to God’s storehouse is in the giving

    Point being, there are a lot of hungry people out there who need to be fed the Bread of Life, and He needs to be served with a smile and a discerning heart.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • David Christy col. use clip.jpg Water, water everywhere?

    As Americans, we have taken water for granted far, far too long. We assume it will always be there, when we turn on the tap.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff’s office, emergency management get new home

    The sheriff’s office and emergency management office will move in October or November to the former Grady Robbins Army Reserve Center on Oxford. The building has been unused since 2011 when the Armed Forces Reserve Center opened at Vance Air Force Base.

    July 18, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Airline passengers should not be casualties of war

    Nowhere in the flight attendants’ patter did the word “missile” appear, and the chance their gleaming Boeing 777 would be brutally slapped from the sky likely never even appeared even as a niggling doubt lurking in the darkest corners of the passengers’ minds.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lady Liberty_MD.jpg Statue of Liberty replica should be repaired, returned

    Maybe we could learn a little from past history. Most know the original national monument was given by the people of France in recognition to a friendship that bloomed during the American Revolution.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steps can be taken to prevent West Nile Virus

    Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, dizziness and muscle weakness, although in rare cases it can cause severe neurologic disease such as meningitis, paralysis or encephalitis. Some cases can be fatal.

    July 16, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads