Tomorrow, People magazine will hit the stands with the first interview with Jaycee, and her photograph on the cover. Yesterday I was on Larry King Live and there was discussion about whether or not this was okay for Jaycee. One of the guests was concerned that this was be the start of a media feeding frenzy. Well, I think that started long ago. They’ve been circling the waters like sharks looking for Jaycee, and they haven’t been successful in finding her. It looks as though Jaycee and her family are very much in charge in this situation.
I am happy to see Jaycee’s smiling face, and hear her speak. I know what a very difficult situation she may feel herself to be in. But when you look at Elizabeth Smart and Shawn Hornbeck, you do not see victims. You see survivors! They stand tall with their heads held high and smiles on their faces. Shawn Hornbeck was missing, a captive of his abductor, for four and a half years. The day after he came home, his family held a press conference and shared their joy with the world. Shawn ended up going back to public school. Elizabeth Smart is a poised young woman now, bravely facing off with her abductors in court, laying it on the line. They are strong. You look into their faces, and they just command respect.
Jaycee is going to be famous. There is no avoiding that. But she doesn’t have to be famous for being a victim. She can join the ranks of the survivors, and be equally respected. She can be a powerful force for good in this world. Already she is, without even lifting a finger; without showing her face or speaking a word, she has become a symbol of hope. She has become a beacon for other children who may still be missing to find their way home. We, the families of the lost children, find hope in her story, but what children out there might be watching and saying to themselves, “If I were to go home, would I be accepted? Would I be loved? Would the world think badly of me for having been where I am?”
Jaycee, we all love you. Elizabeth and Shawn also. We rejoice in you, and we are very proud of you. Hold your head high. The past is the past. The future is warm and bright.