The face of captured Pfc. Keith "Matt" Maupin on a videotape broadcast Friday by Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera brought home the high-risk American commitment to Iraq with more than usual poignancy. The 20-year-old Army Reservist from Batavia, Ohio appeared alert and unhurt. He identified himself as "Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin."
The tape, reportedly delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, raised hopes that Matt Maupin is still alive. We join with his family and the entire community in praying for his safe return. His captivity should steel our resolve.
His captors, according to a translation of the tape, said he was being treated well "according to Islam." They offered to exchange him for some Iraqi militants in U.S. custody.
On April 9, Maupin and Greensboro, N.C. Sgt Elmer Krause were listed as "duty-status whereabouts unknown" after their fuel convoy came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire near Baghdad. Maupin was a 3.5 point-average student and football player at Glen Este High School in Union Township. He graduated in 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks, and joined the Army Reserve to earn money for college. The community has rallied round the family and lined the football field with yellow ribbons.
Insurgents in Iraq also lately have pursued an erratic and sometimes ruthless strategy of abductions, assassinations and occasional releases. Up to now the main motive has been to bully allies in the coalition to split from the United States and pull their troops out of Iraq. With the exception of Spain, the tactic has not been successful. Italy is just one example of the united resolve. After Italian hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi was executed this week by his kidnappers, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed not to give in.
In President Bush's Tuesday press conference, he praised our troops, the allied coalition and support at home. "It's important," he said, "for those soldiers to know America stands with them, and we weep when they die, and we're proud of the victories they achieve...Our soldiers who have volunteered to go there understand the stakes, and I'm incredibly proud of them."
For us now, Private Maupin has become the face of that hazardous, high-stakes liberation.
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