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By Jamie Latimer, Child of War


Jamie (l) with her family

The holidays are just around the corner. Families will get together, big meals will be served, and one can't forget the giving of thanks and the giving and getting of presents. Smiles, laughter, and the talk about where families are going or what they will be doing seems to be buzzing around me, like an annoying bee flying around my head.

You see, my mom, Kim, my brother, Jerome, and I will celebrate the holidays, but we do it in a different way. Our celebration is the same as thousands upon thousands, but different than most . Our holidays will be celebrated in our living room as many people celebrate, but there will be something missing... my father. We will be visiting the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Arizona as much as possible this holiday season. My father, Larry Hiveley, is a first time, non-violent drug offender. He is serving approximately twenty years for a marijuana conspiracy. Almost twenty years, crazy isn't it?

I will come home from Northern Arizona University several times during this season. My family will make trips to FCI Phoenix where my father eagerly awaits us. We've been through this routine of visiting my father in prison for the last three years, and we will continue for the next fourteen years.

Many people will gather together around their trees and give thanks, but there are thousands who will be visiting prisons to see their loved ones. Imagine that...visiting a prison during the holidays because you are separated from those you love, be it friends or family members. Holidays, as well as every other day of the year is a time for families and togetherness. People will be giving thanks, but what will those thousands who are POW's of the drug war and their families give thanks for? Will we give thanks for the way the government has ripped our families apart? Will we give thanks for the government that has taken almost everything away from us? Will we give thanks for the way we are separated from our fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, friends, and other family members? What will we celebrate? Many of us do not know how to celebrate. Some of you have been there haven't you?

Well, we give thanks that we still have a family. We will give thanks that we are strong, and we will give one another love and support. We will celebrate like everyone else, though unlike everyone else, it is difficult for the thousands who will visit a prison this holiday season.

It is very hard to get through every day of your life when you are separated from those you love, because they are serving absurd mandatory minimum sentences. It is even harder to be happy and smile as you trudge through the holiday season. We, the families of the POWs, and the POWs themselves must be strong, we must pull together. The holidays can be just another day or they can be as great as we want them to be. We must remember the thousands of orphans whose parents are POWs of the Drug War. We can't let the holiday spirit slip away from these young people. We must learn to pull ourselves off of the floor and celebrate that we have one another. You are not alone, there are many of us who go through the routine of being separated during the holidays. Don't let them destroy've made it this far. DON'T ever give up.

We believe in one another and in ourselves, please remember that.

I wish the best for all the POWs of the Drug War and their families during this holiday season. I believe in you. Be strong and God bless you all.

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