The abandoned American

The abandoned American
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Eight years ago around this time, I was pleading for Iran to send my father, Bob Levinson, home so he could walk me down the aisle at my wedding. Now he is the longest-held hostage in American history and I find myself making the same plea for my baby sister, who is getting married early next year on the same day as my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary.

But I am at a loss.


After 11 years of constant agony (for me, for my family, but most of all for my father), I’m not sure what, if anything, I can possibly say to convince the Iranian government to do the right thing. I’m not sure how to convince the American government to fight for him, either.

We all know how complicated the U.S. relationship with Iran is, but in our country’s ups and downs with the Iranians over the past 11 years, Bob Levinson continually has failed to be the priority that a true patriot — one who was taken prisoner while working on behalf of the American government — should be.

What can my family do that we haven’t done? What can we say that we haven’t said? How loudly must we scream for two governments to act? What is the secret sauce to make anyone care? I find myself asking these questions over and over again.

My family finds ourselves repeating the same things often, as we have had to travel to Washington, D.C., to educate new people working on my dad’s case every few months because of turnover in our government. Many times, people are barely aware of the basics about his 2007 disappearance. We meet them in person, to make a “human connection,” hoping to impart a sense of urgency, to explain to them that my father’s case matters because he is an American citizen. We ask them to do their jobs.

Is our government doing all it can to bring my father home? It is hard for us to know when we get shuffled from one official to the next, to the next. And it is not just this administration, either — it has been three administrations now. Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D-Fla.) is the only person left who has fought for my father since the beginning.

Just when we build a relationship with someone we think will be a strong advocate on my family’s behalf, they leave, they retire, they get fired, or they move on to a new role. Over the past few weeks alone, we have had our two biggest advocates at the National Security Council and FBI each tell us they were retiring or moving on. This came barely a month after a key State Department contact got transferred, and just a few months after former Homeland Security director Tom Bossert, who had been our key point of contact since President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE took office, left. This is just the tip of the iceberg that is the past 11 years, and yet we are crushed.

How many more people are we going to have to convince to make my dad a priority, or at least to tell us they will? We have been living the movie “Groundhog Day,” with a key difference: we are not able to make any progress toward a happy ending.

My biggest fear is that my parents will live the rest of their lives without ever seeing each other again, that my children will only ever know their Grandpa Bob through stories, and that my children’s children will never find out the truth of what has happened to Bob Levinson.

How can such a wonderful man as my father, Bob Levinson, be left behind so freely, all but forgotten?

There has to be something that can be done. Anything. Some visible message from our government to Iran that we no longer will consent to the status quo; that Iran’s cruel silence is no longer acceptable. This is not about politics, this is about compassion. Iran has Bob Levinson, and they must send him home — in time for him to walk his youngest daughter down the aisle.

Sarah (Levinson) Moriarty is the daughter of Robert "Bob" Levinson, the longest held hostage in American history.