Thursday, July 5, 2007

Amber Hagerman - You Are Not Forgotten

On January 12, 1996 Amber Hagerman went for a short bike ride around the block with her little brother. They'd stopped with their mother to visit their grandparents in Arlington, TX.

Her mother grew up in this neighborhood and as a child rode her bike on the same streets. The family waited in the yard, chatting, until the children returned.

Eight minutes. That's all it took and Amber was gone, abducted by a man in a pick-up. A neighbor heard the girl's cries and called 911. Police were dispatched. Amber's grandfather walked the block looking for the girl, since his grandson had returned without her, saying he couldn't find his sister. Four days later Amber's body was found in a drainage ditch. Her murderer has never been found.

Amber, the little girl who loved Burger King, Barbie dolls, and the song America the Beautiful because of the line with her name it in (amber waves of grain)...she's gone but not forgotten. She's left a legacy that so far has helped to save 324 distressed children.

The AMBER ALERT Law was signed by President Bush in 2003. Amber's brother Ricky and her mother were there to see the bill enacted into law. AMBER stands for America's Missing:Broadcast Emergency Response. All 50 states now have plans in place to immediatly broadcast information over the airwaves when a child is found to have been abducted. Just like a weather bulletin forecasting an impending tornado, AMBER ALERT send out immediate calls for help about where and when someone was taken and all the pertinant information to hopefully find them before more harm can be done.

90% of the 324 recoveries occured after AMBER ALERT became a national program. Before that, Texas operated its own AMBER program, which was used as a model for the national effort.

Amber's family would much rather have her back. She'd be a young woman now, leading her own life, voting for the first time in 2008, and maybe going to college. Her family understands that is not possible for their little girl but with AMBER ALERT another child like Amber will have that opportunity.

Amber's legacy is triumph out of tragedy, if not for her, at least for other children like her who fall into the hands of evil predators. Because of her there is a chance other abducted children will be found quickly and their captures will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

No comments: