Friday, October 23, 2009

Reflecting on the 20th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling's abduction

This past week was the 20th anniversary of the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling. The local media did a tasteful job of writing about the event.

The Star Tribune ran a lengthy story this past Sunday about Aaron Larson, a friend of Jacob Wetterling who was present at the abduction. That link can be found here:

Yesterday the Pioneer Press also ran a lengthy story yesterday. That link can be found here:

This story is one that has reached into the soul of people in Minnesota. Say the name, “Jacob Wetterling,” and most adults 30 and over can have a conversation. I was in California on October 22, 1989—working for the farm workers and most likely reflecting on my own encounter with the Loma Prieta earthquake. I remember at that time some college women from Minnesota who came to do a short internship with the farm workers. On the window of their car they had taped paper signs imploring the public to find Jacob.

On the Jacob Wetterling Resource web site Patty Wetterling said,
“Today people often remark, ‘I know where I was when Jacob was taken. I remember what I was doing or wearing. I remember how it made me feel. I’ve never stopped wondering what happened to that little boy.’ That defining moment in time continues to impact people throughout Minnesota, Jacob’s home state, and in nearly every corner of the world.”

I have never met Patty Wetterling. From afar I’ve always admired her courage and character. She has said over and over and over again that she believes Jacob is still alive. Let’s face it—if most of us were in her shoes we would have given up that dream long ago. She has responded to this tragedy by dedicating her life to keeping kids safe. Just a year after the kidnapping she and her husband formed the Jacob Wetterling Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to educate the public about who takes children, how they do it and what each of us can do to stop it.

We live in a culture that encourages grievance. If someone cuts in front of us while driving, we have the right to “send them the bird.” If we are not feeling a hundred percent, it’s understandable if we lash out at our kids. We have a system that justifies our grievances.

Instead of giving into the rage she must have experienced Patty Wetterling and her husband responded in a different way. Their response is a lesson in character for us all.

No comments: