SPECIAL REPORT: No place like home

| 4/4/2003

The people of Palestine, WV, and Salt Lake City have something sweet in common. They have regained a daughter.

The town citizens and all Americans rejoiced when news came of the rescue in an Iraqi hospital of captive Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, and captive Elizabeth Smart, 15, found in Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb.

The two, a mere four years apart, have some things in common.

Their lives were entwined with self-proclaimed prophets who used fear and intimidation to hold onto power and terrify their captives.

For years, Saddam Hussein imprisoned an entire country; alleged criminals Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee were charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual assault for holding Elizabeth 9 months.

Each return was called a “miracle” – even though tipsters helped authorities locate both young women. More to the point, perhaps Jessica and Elizabeth discovered something inside that enabled them to survive.

Elizabeth waited until she was sure it would be safe to reveal her real identity. She must have been terrified – reports later identified the place where she had been tied to a tree.

In keeping with her training, Jessica, an Army supply clerk, reportedly shot several Iraqi soldiers during the March 23 ambush that resulted in her capture. She kept firing until she ran out of ammunition, press accounts said.

Both will need time to heal physical and mental wounds.

Elizabeth will need therapy. So might Jessica, but doctors first tended to fractures in both legs, a broken arm and disc surgery to repair her back.

We hope Jessica’s mother, brother and father, Greg Lynch (a Land Line reader), feel the exquisite happiness truckdrivers and all Americans share with his family. Most of all, we wish all a joyful homecoming. As Dorothy said after leaving the bogus Wizard, “There’s no place like home.”

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor