My father loves to play chess. Growing up as one of seven children, I would take any opportunity I had for quality time with him, which often meant battling him in an epic chess match. I loved it, but I hated it. I would get frustrated, feel I was not good enough, and usually want to stop early. But Dad would gently push me to not give up, to see through on my promise to play with him.
I learned many life lessons from my dad over those games of chess, but looking back now, the most important were in knowing when the time was right to make a move and in seeing a challenge through to the end. These lessons came rushing back to mind this past week as the United States and several world powers reached an historic agreement with Iran to curb their country's nuclear program.
While my father, Bob Levinson, and three other Americans held in Iran were not part of the nuclear deal, my family is more confident than ever that we will soon see their release. We are optimistic that the Iranian government will deliver on their promise to help find my father and send him home to show America, and the world, that they are serious about their peaceful intentions.
My father is the longest held hostage in American history, after disappearing from Kish Island, Iran, eight years ago. He is 67 years old and suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. Not a day goes by where we are not worried about his health and well being. Bob Levinson has been lingering in captivity for 3,054 days, with absolutely no contact with anyone he knows and loves. While we know in our hearts our father is still alive, we often find ourselves fearing how long someone can go on under those circumstances. How much pain can one person possibly bear?
Our family has no further information from my father's captors since receiving emails of a hostage video and photographs over four years ago. Nor has anyone stepped forward with compelling information to claim the FBI's five million dollar reward.
Where is Bob Levinson? What do we have to do to get him home? Who can help us?
Only Iran can help us uncover the answer to these questions. My father disappeared on Iranian soil and the Iranian government has a moral obligation to find him. We are ever hopeful that Iran will work with counterparts in the United States and ramp up efforts to do this immediately. What better way to show naysayers that their government says what it means? What better way to build good faith than in finding Bob Levinson and bringing him home to his family? Given the unprecedented nuclear agreement last week, the time is right for Iran to prove they can deliver on their promises.
There is no doubt in my mind that my father is alive, fighting every day to find his way home. You can hear the resolve in his voice in the video we received in late 2010. You can see the fortitude in his eyes in the pictures from early 2011.
To know Bob Levinson is to know his strength, his determination and his drive -- to know his deep, unwavering love for my mother and for all my family. He will not go silently into the night. Bob Levinson is as determined to get home as we are to get him home. But we need Iran's help.
While last week's deal was a starting point, we have not yet fully turned the page with Iran until we have resolution of my dad's case and that of the three other Americans held. My family has watched intently as our country went from absolutely no relations with Iran to this very promising open and direct dialogue. We truly believe this is the beginning of more fruitful discussions to come, and that it will unlock any remaining challenges our countries have in order to get my father home.
As long as our two governments are speaking, we believe our father will be home to us soon. We know Iran can help us find the answers, and the past few months have proven how closely our two countries are willing to work together to resolve issues. Bob Levinson is no less important.
As my father taught me in those early chess games, we will not give up. We know the time is right to act. We humbly ask Iran to deliver on their promise by helping bring my father home. It's their move now.
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