You do not know me but I am one of the lives impacted by your unasked-for martyrdom.
People fear for our Millennial generation—that we are pampered, participation-trophy snowflakes and could never endure the hardships of the depression or world wars generations before us did at our same young age. But look at you. Celebrating your 21st birthday in chains in a paraia regime infamous for brutalities civilization is yet to uncover. You didn’t have military or intelligence training to withstand the horrors you witnessed and withstood as long as you could. You were an American boy living his constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—you didn’t give those up when you crossed into international territory. In fact, these same rights pressed you on to explore new worlds.
We are the generation of no problem, not sorry. It’s always someone else’s fault. But even in your innocence under unthinkable duress, you stepped up, owned the "alleged" charge and begged for mercy. When all of us run to our safe spaces at some tiny trigger for therapy dogs and Play-Doh, you stood in front of cameras and a fixed jury as they violated your vulnerability for the world to see. But you made us proud, Otto. At that moment, as your tears flowed and your heart beat, you were America. America cannot be more alive than when her spirit lives on in our souls. The biblical prophet Isaiah wrote of soaring like eagles (Isaiah 40:31)—and with the Eagle, you did soar, Otto. And the hell you fought through here on earth cannot touch you now, child of God.
I could ask the why’s: Why hundreds of millions were sent to free Iranian hostages while you were kept waiting? Why sentences were commuted while the innocent is left in jail? Life isn’t fair or even just—but I know your blood cries out (Proverbs 6:17) and the tears you and your family have shed have been caught in a bottle (Psalm 56:8) and one day, oh one day, Otto, God will avenge. But you’ve met Him now—so you know.
You did not waste your life, Otto. And though we mourn the moments here on earth we cannot share with you or even meet you, you jammed into your short life the fullest quality and bravery that any American could even think of. You did not ask to be a martyr for American ideals—but you became one. They sought to break your spirit by torturing your body and mind—but your spirit kept fighting. Knowing and believing that America could not stand by while one of her own was a suffering hostage.
America failed you and then was too late, Otto. But you kept believing. That Lady Liberty could yet still break the bonds of prisoners. You had no safe zone. No pass on hate speech. No protesters to shut down or stall the government. People callously say that you or your parents should have known better than to cross into NoKo. But I say to them: NoKo should know better than to cross America and kill one of her children. Your death shall not be in vain. We will never forget. May a millstone be hung around the necks of those who aggressed you (Matthew 18:6).
May you now receive your heavenly crowns as you enjoy life in a just kingdom.