Saturday, July 31, 2010

Senator Al Franken Speaks to Bauer Family and Friends

The forecast this morning was for rain. The newspaper said, "Bring an umbrella when you go sea the Tall Ships." The Tall Ships have been a huge revenue generator for Duluth this week, filling hotels and restaurants and bringing crowds from all over the upper Midwest to the Canal Park/Bayfront area.

But at another spot along the waterfront another small crowd had also gathered today with a more important task, to bring awareness to the anniversary of the unjust detention of three American hikers who were taken on July 31 a year ago. And the weather could not have been more perfect.

Mayor Don Ness was on hand to introduce Senator Al Franken who arrived just in time to lead the march from the War Memorial near Fitgers up to The Play Ground inside the Technology Village where a silent auction was held to benefit the families of the imprisoned young people.

Senator Franken's heartfelt remarks resonated with all us who have older children.

This is a sad anniversary. I gotta tell you, I can’t wait to meet Shane, Sarah and Josh… The families have been so dedicated, courageous, determined and smart. Nobody trains you, there is no manual on how to be a parent of a child that has been taken by a foreign government. There is not roadmap. I have worked closely with Cindy Hickey and all the parents… This has been torture for them because you have to be careful when dealing with a government like Iran. I am sure there are things she would like to say but cannot ….

Shane and Sarah are now engaged, it’s a beautiful story.

They were hiking in a beautiful place in Kirghistan, which is part of Iraq… and either they went over the border into Iran or they didn’t, we don’t know. They have been held over a year, in a very intense situation… We call on the Iranian government to do the right thing.

Cindy, I just can’t tell you how much I admire your courage. I have a 25 year old and 29 year old and I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Your courage is inspiring. I’m glad you’re my friend.

The "beautiful story" which he referenced is how Shane and Sarah became engaged. The situation in the prison is such that Sarah has her own cell and the young men share another cell. The three have been permitted to meet twice a day for a half an hour, but on one occasion in January Josh stayed in their cell and Shane went alone out to be with Sarah whereupon he proposed, and she consented.

Also present today along with many friends, supporters and well-wishers was Shane's sister Nicole Lindstrom (she is now married, living in Duluth), and his father Al Bauer of Shakopee.

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