Natalee Holloway Is So Important To Us !!!

By Monroe Dugdale

This article appeared in the August 2005 Issue of Growing Up. The article is reprinted with permission of Growing Up magazine and Monroe Dugdale.

In the May/June Issue of Growing Up, I wrote a lengthy column on “Have You Seen This Child?” and since that time several shocking cases have been reported across the United States to include the recent horrific case of Shasta and Dylan Groene. One case that has caught the world’s attention is the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. Natalee is an 18-year-old honor student who graduated at Mountain Brook High School, outside of Birmingham, Alabama, in May. Natalee was on a trip with fellow graduating seniors in Aruba when she failed to meet up with the group at the hotel on May 30th for her return flight home.

Aruba is part of the Netherlands Antilles, and is located off the northern coast of Venezuela. This tropical paradise is approximately 19 miles long and 5 miles wide. Aruba has a population of about 72,000. Someone (perhaps many) caused the disappearance of Natalee in the wee hours of May 30th, and this tiny island is no longer a paradise. For a country where 75% of the local economy is based on tourism from the U.S., I would surmise the Aruban government would do everything possible to find the missing American! Sadly, this does not appear to be the case.

Not all missing children/adult cases get as much media attention as Natalee’s case. So why is Natalee’s case so important to us? First, Natalee is a beautiful young lady from Alabama. She is one of our own! She could belong to any of us. Her story tears at our very souls, and our hearts are bleeding in sorrow for this family. There is very little we can do to assist them. Time is passing; hope is fading, and to finally my prayer is now the Twitty/Holloway family will just be able to return to Alabama with Natalee and find closure in the near future.

Natalee’s case is so important as it reminds us to always follow the basic rules of safety—even in paradise—and even in the company of a justice official’s family member. One must never let their guard down…never sit down a drink…never turn their back…and never accept a ride. Always stay with friends and utilize the buddy system. In this case, the level of awareness has even grown knowing the trip was international. These aren’t just safety rules for teenagers. Adults tend to become more relaxed on vacation and in a resort setting as well. This is a common occurrence. Natalee made a new friend. People of all ages socialize with strangers on vacations.

Next, Natalee’s case should be very important to every American planning on traveling abroad. This is an education on international law. For example, under Dutch law, a person can be held for up to 116 days with only “serious suspicion” before authorities are required to even file formal charges. Any American traveling to a foreign country should become familiar with the basic laws of the nation they are visiting. Further, we are watching daily as the Aruban government withholds information from Natalee’s family as to not compromise their investigation under the Dutch legal system. This would have to be the absolute hardest thing for any parent to endure!

Natalee’s case is so important to us because it has shown the love of two parents and two stepparents (a family divided), and the efforts, tears and pain in their attempts to locate her. This family has pulled together . . . united . . . stood strong and is staying the course. There is a lesson for us all in their unity, love, and compassion. We have seen the tireless, hard work of volunteers in time, money, and physical efforts. Many volunteers, unknown to this family, have traveled from the United States to Aruba to assist the family in the search. What heroes!!!

Finally, Natalee’s case is so important to us all as we pray for her…we also pray for ALL the missing children/adults who are not in the media at this time. My dream is that someday, I will not have this issue before me to write about, and all the little cries are soothed. In my perfect world, everyone returns home safely and we finally have all the answers. But until that time, we have a lot of work to do to protect our children—A LOT OF WORK!!!

Monroe Dugdale is retired from her chosen career, but enjoys freelance writing and is an avid poet. She has a Master’s Degree in Justice and Public Safety from the University of Auburn, and remains passionate about child, elder, disability, and animal rights. She resides in Madison, Alabama, with her family.




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