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.
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