Commentary: We invite you to celebrate Austin Tice’s birthday

Voices
Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of Austin Tice, who is missing in Syria for nearly six years, speak during a press conference, at the Press Club, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. The parents of an American journalist Austin Tice who has been missing in Syria since 2012 say they are hopeful the Trump administration will work on releasing their son the way they did with Americans who had been held for long time in North Korea. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Thirty-eight years ago Sunday, after nine months of waiting, we finally had the great delight of meeting our firstborn, Austin Bennett Tice.

Today, we wish we could remind him of how glad we are he was born, how blessed we are to be his parents, how truly we believe the world is a better place for having him in it.

But we can't do that; Austin is detained in Syria. We are not allowed any contact with him.

Sunday is his 2,554th day of detention.


Austin went to Syria in 2012. As a freelance journalist, he was there to cover the escalating conflict and raise awareness of the horrible consequences of urban warfare, especially for children.

His 31st birthday was the last time we were able to share the joy of this special date with him – singing the "birthday song" over the internet, reminiscing about the past year and sharing dreams for the year ahead.

Three days later, on Aug. 14, 2012, Austin was detained at a checkpoint near Damascus.

He has been held in secret and in silence for almost seven years.

Today, we are wistfully thinking of all the ways we wish we could celebrate with him.

We are fondly remembering wonderful birthday celebrations of the past: delightful summer gatherings of family and friends, which included imaginative cakes, party games, and, of course, thoughtful gifts.

There are so many things we would love to do to celebrate with Austin, but the birthday candles and games and gifts will have to wait until he comes home.

Until then, we will continue to faithfully pray and relentlessly work to bring our son safely home.

Today, we are celebrating by announcing the launch of the "Ask About Austin" campaign.

We invite you to join us in urging the White House and the State Department to continue to use every diplomatic means available to secure Austin's safest and soonest return.

We ask you to help make our birthday wish for Austin come true:

Go to AskAboutAustinTice.org to send messages to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and your members of Congress. Add your signature to a petition to the U.S. government asking that all available diplomatic means be used to bring Austin safely home.

If you are in the Washington, D.C., metro area, please sign up to volunteer on Sept. 23, when we plan to canvass Capitol Hill to raise awareness for Austin and make sure every member of Congress knows about the upcoming two-day exhibit of Austin's photos from Syria, beginning Sept. 30 in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Invite your family, your friends, and your colleagues to join us in celebrating Austin by bringing him safely home.
———
ABOUT THE WRITER
Debra and Marc Tice are the parents of journalist Austin Tice, who has been detained in Syria since 2012. For more information: www.austinticefamily.com.
———
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Trump's recent decisions in northern Syria were ill-advised, strategically unsound, and morally shameful. In rapidly withdrawing U.S. presence and allowing a Turk offensive into Syria, we have left the Syrian Kurds behind, created a power vacuum for our adversaries to fill, and set the stage for the resurgence of ISIS.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the world's largest freshwater fish is protected by the natural equivalent of a "bulletproof vest," helping it thrive in the dangerous waters of the Amazon River basin with flexible armor-like scales able to withstand ferocious piranha attacks.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego and University of California, Berkeley on Wednesday described the unique structure and impressive properties of the dermal armor of the fish, called Arapaima gigas. They said their findings can help guide development of better body armor for people as well as applications in aerospace design.

Read More Show Less

DELAND, Florida — A military freefall parachuting team has a better reason to conquer Mount Everest than "because it's there."

The 12-member team, assembled by Complete Parachute Solutions of DeLand, will attempt a world record for the highest-elevation tactical military freefall parachute landing. But it's more than a record. It's validation.

"When CPS says we've landed our parachutes at over 20,000 feet, that means we've done it," said Johnny Rogers, the company's vice president.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. military's withdrawal from northeast Syria is looking more like Dunkirk every day.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military had to call in an airstrike on one of its own ammunition dumps in northern Syria because the cargo trucks required to safely remove the ammo are needed elsewhere to support the withdrawal, Task & Purpose has learned.

Read More Show Less

More than 74 years after Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, the Marine Corps has announced that one of men in the most famous picture of World War II had been misidentified.

Read More Show Less