Opinion: A new flag is going to fly over the White House. My dad would be proud

Opinion: A new flag is going to fly over the White House. My dad would be proud - Crime and Courts - News

Title: A Decade of Unending Agony: My Father’s Disappearance and the Establishment of National Hostage Day

Sarah Levinson Moriarty, a distinguished fellow with New America’s Future Security Program, recounts her personal experience of losing her father, Robert Levinson, the longest-held hostage in US history. This commentary reflects Sarah’s perspective and not that of CNN.

March 9, 2007, marked the onset of an unimaginable ordeal for Sarah Levinson Moriarty. Her father, Robert Levinson – a loving patriarch, career FBI agent, and devoted family man – was taken captive by the Iranian regime while on Kish Island. The day before his 59th birthday and just a week before Sarah’s family was to celebrate, her father was inexplicably taken away from them.

A Man Larger Than Life:
Robert Levinson was a man of colossal stature, both physically and in spirit. Towering at 6-foot-4 inches and emanating a contagious joy, he dominated any room he entered. A devoted father of seven and loving husband, Levinson was a true American hero, having served as an FBI agent before becoming a contractor for the CIA. Sarah cherished having Bobby Levinson as her dad and felt unimaginably fortunate to be his daughter.

The Agonizing Wait:
One year after Robert’s abduction, Sarah and her family were no closer to answers or resolution. The Iranians had remained silent, as had the US government, leaving the Levinson family in limbo and filled with frustration.

Two years later, Sarah prepared for her wedding to the love of her life while still clinging to hope that her father would be released in time to walk her down the aisle. However, the family’s desperation continued unabated as they still had no information on Robert’s whereabouts or condition.

Six Long Years:
In 2016, six years after her father’s disappearance, Sarah was caring for her newborn son and recovering from surgery when she received devastating news. Intelligence indicated that Robert Levinson had passed away in captivity. The family was grateful for the closure provided but grieved deeply for their beloved patriarch, who would never return to them.

The Establishment of National Hostage Day:
In March 2020, as the world grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Levinson family was once again struck by loss on the anniversary of Robert’s disappearance. However, their pain was somewhat alleviated when the US government passed a law codifying a hostage and wrongful detainee flag into law. March 9, Robert’s March 9, was officially recognized as National Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Day. The flag would now fly above the White House, State Department, and Capitol on this day and others when American citizens held captive overseas returned home to their country.

A Call for National Support:
On the first National Hostage Day, Sarah appeals to the American public to rally together in support of those currently held captive and those who have returned from captivity. She encourages displays of flags, Website social media integration postsings, charitable donations, volunteering, and increased awareness of international travel risks as ways to honor the sacrifices made by these brave individuals and their families.

The Ongoing Struggle:
Six Americans remain held captive by Hamas following the October 7 terror attack on Israel, and several US citizens continue to be detained in Russia, including former Marine Paul Whelan, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, and amateur ballerina Ksenia Karelina. Additionally, China detains businessman Mark Swidan, Chinese-American businessman Kai Li, and pastor David Lin. Sarah urges the American public to make their voices heard on March 9, 2024, and every March 9 moving forward to support these individuals and their families.

As Sarah and her family mark the anniversary of Robert Levinson’s disappearance, they continue to mourn his loss and strive to bring his remains home. The establishment of National Hostage Day represents a small but significant step in raising awareness and providing support for those enduring the unimaginable ordeal of captivity.