This long weekend was a grim one for four Americans named Jean and Scott Adam and Phyllis Mackay and Robert A. Riggle. They were sailing on their 58-foot yacht for the island of Djibouti to refuel when their vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates on Friday afternoon. They were held hostage over the weekend, and earlier today, they were killed, when gunfire erupted during attempts by the U.S. Navy to negotiate with their captors, according to American military officials.
This is the first time that Americans have been killed in this current wave of pirate attacks that have taken place in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for years. The Adams were missionaries who had made it their goal since 2004 to sail the world with their yacht full of bibles. It's not only tragic what has happened to them, Mackay, and Riggle, but it's also a bit terrifying ... literally.
These pirates have been known to take hostages for ransom, aka cash. But this is the first instance where it seems they've acted more like terrorists, taking hostages and killing them outright. This turn of events seems to signal that the "seafaring war is spiraling more out of control," says The Washington Post.
Is it just me, or is this just one of MANY mini-wars worldwide that seem to be reaching a fever pitch right now? (Think: Egypt, Israel, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Greece, etc.) It does kind of make you wonder if it's safe to travel internationally ...
Obviously, things aren't perfect here at home. Okay, not perfectly peaceful BY FAR. But, I know people who won't leave New York, let alone the country. And my mother, as world-traveled as she is, told me that when she once landed on U.S. soil after a trip abroad, she felt like getting down on her knees and kissing the ground. We're not completely out of harm's way on domestic terrain, but especially given news like today's, being away from home can feel unsettling.
Friends of mine have taken recent honeymoons to New Zealand, Thailand, others have been to and from Israel for Birthright trips ... Everyone came home happy. I remember when I was studying in London during the summer of 2005 -- that was when the tube was attacked by terrorists. My mom wanted me to come home immediately, but I refused. Coming home would be giving in -- it would be allowing myself to be terrorized. I stayed, and I enjoyed the rest of my study abroad. But I'm grateful that the U.K. ramped up security and that the university I was studying with did everything they could to keep us students safe.
It's terribly sad what has happened to Jean and Scott Adam, Phyllis Mackay, and Robert A. Riggle, but we can't let it deter us from traveling outside of the U.S. The positive experiences and expanded worldview that come with international travel are definitely worth the risks associated with being in a foreign country. But, now more than ever, it feels like it's extra important to be aware of the potential dangers we might face, too.
Are you leery of international travel these days?
Image via RubyGoes/Flickr