Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Wichita Eagle lead on Gracia Burnham, published May 11:

The simplest things whisk Gracia Burnham back to the jungle. Most recently , it was picking up her daughter Mindy's backpack. She felt the weight on her shoulder and, suddenly, she was back - back in the humidity, lugging her backpack up a mountain, her armed captors ordering "Faster! . . . Faster!"

Just as quickly, she comes home.

"I told myself, 'You don't have to carry this up a mountain, you have to carry it to the car' " Gracia says. "Bad things can happen here during the day, but I'm just so happy because I'm not back there."

It's been almost a year since she was rescued from 376 days of cruelty at the hands of terrorists linked to al-Qaida.

LA Times lead, which moved on the wires May 27:

Gracia Burnham picked up her daughter's backpack and slung it across her shoulder. The memory hit with such force it knocked her back — back a year, back to the jungle.

For a moment, she was again a hostage, marching at gunpoint up a mountain — filthy, famished, hauling uncooked rice in an old green pack. The flashback dissolved. She was again in Kansas. She continued walking toward her minivan.

Gracia Burnham does not let her memories haunt her. But she cannot erase that year of terror.

For 376 days, she and her husband, Martin, were held hostage by Muslim militants in the wilds of the Philippines.

Interesting way to start a story. Was the lead stolen? Who knows? It could just be that Gracia Burnham recylces her anecdotes too much.


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