Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Little More About Yesterday's March for Freedom in Duluth

This week's Duluth News Tribune has been ablaze with stories about the Tall Ships, including this morning once again. I find it interesting that a U.S. Senator flew into town, marched with a group of protesters and drove to Minneapolis for a sister event and that the story that made the news was an Associated Press pickup about the mothers of the imprisoned hikers from the day before when they were in New York. Perhaps a protest march is more suited for television. All the television stations were present for yesterday’s march and silent auction to bring awareness to the plight of Josh, Shane and Sarah.

The silent auction was scheduled to begin at The Play Ground at two, but with the senator’s plane delayed leaving the Cities the gathering had more time to meet, greet, hug, hear stories. What I found especially interesting was how ordinary this group of people is. It’s a family with kids, like the rest of us, thrown into a situation no one dreams of where one feels almost powerless. Yet, you can’t sit back and do nothing, so you find ways to work the systems to bring about the desired outcome, a homecoming.

That the country’s highest elected officials would take an interest of such ordinary people (as if any of us could be called ordinary) speaks volumes. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton made remarks to the media, despite the distractions of Chelsea’s impending wedding. But the Bauers haven’t relied solely on political channels. Cindy, Shane’s mom, said that they have also found great assistance from the inter-faith community. The Archbishop has a relationship with a high ranking person who has talked with the Islamic head person there in Iran.

Shane’s dad, Al Bauer, was also here today. He said that one day he tried to sit in an empty room to see what it would be like for a day in confinement. After an hour he said he was climbing the walls.

Perhaps the most difficult thing is the not knowing. Not knowing how they are doing. Not knowing what will happen to change things from their current status. Not knowing how long it will go on. Not knowing about their health, their hope, their strength.

I spoke with Nicole Lindstrom, Shane’s brother, for a few minutes before Senator Franken arrived.

E: What has it been like this past year?
Nicole Lindstrom: It’s hard to describe what this past year because it’s like this whole thing happened yesterday, because nothing has really happened for a whole year. There has been no movement. They’re sitting in a cell in the same situation they were in a year ago.

E: Are they in three separate cells?
NL: Shane and Josh are together but Sarah is separate. She sees Shane and Josh for a half hour twice a day. Otherwise she’s completely alone in her cell. Shane and Sarah got engaged in January in the open air room… four walls with a caged in ceiling. Josh stayed in the room that day so he could propose to her.

E: How many countries has he been to doing photojournalism?
NL: Yemen, Darfur, Syria, Iraq. When he went to Iraq to do his journalism stuff we were all nervous about it, but he was always with a security person. He always took care of himself that way. The second time, he said it was a very peaceful region and tourist destination in the Middle East and people go there all the time.

E: Have you seen a deeper part of your mom since this happened that maybe while growing up you took for granted?
NL: My mom has always been really supportive in everything that we do and she’s always been there for us. I would just say it’s more amplified now, and she is really determined to get Shane home.

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