Last evening I got an email from a friend in my hometown of Chattanooga asking if I knew that the American hostage (in Iraq) Tom Fox was the same Tom Fox I sat in homeroom with for three years in high school. No, of course I didn't. Tom Fox is a fairly common name and his hometown was listed as somewhere in Virginia, so I never made the connection.
A Quaker and member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, he and three others were kidnapped a week and a half ago by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade. Tom's group was in Iraq on a peace mission, not to stir up trouble of any kind.
I have to admit I didn't know Tom very well. He was rather quiet but very nice, as I recall. I remember he was in the marching band and swing band - both of which were outstanding at Chattanooga (City) High School in the 1960s. We didn't run in the same circle, but it was a big school, so that's not unusual. My only tie with him, really, was three-years'-worth of homeroom and being forever joined together in the yearbook, since Tom's picture was always right next to mine (Fox/Frazier). Still, it hits very close to home.
From all I've read about him, he was a thoughtful, peaceful man, a good father, and an excellent musician (he served 20 years in the White House band as a clarinetist, I think). Since leaving the White House gig, he has dedicated himself to peace - learning it, teaching it, writing it, practicing it. Anything else anyone in the Class of 1969 has done seems to pale in comparison.
There is a deadline for these hostages. Their captors have given a Thursday (December 8 - tomorrow) deadline for releasing Iraqi prisoners and detainee or the hostages will be killed. Please remember Tom and the others in your prayers - if you're not into prayer, hold them kindly in your thoughts. They are there in peace. To quote Tom before he ventured to Iraq:
It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is to confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am not to give in to either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying “American for the Taking?” No, to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it, to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan. I struggle to stand firm but I’m willing to keep working at it.
Here's to the quiet musician in hornrims from City High's class of 1969. May the peace of the Lord be always with you.