Columns

Thank you for Jon Hammar, Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: December 22, 2012 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

After Newtown, America needed a Christmas story with a happy ending, and thanks largely to South Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, it's getting a beauty.

Marine veteran Jon Hammar, unjustly held for the last four months in a violent Mexican prison, often chained to his bed and fearing for his life, is back in the U.S.A. two days before Christmas Eve. He was released Friday night, much to the joy of his friends and his parents -- the answer to their prayers.

Jon Hammar Sr., father of the 27-year-old combat veteran, confirmed to FOX News that his son was back on U.S. soil and with him in a rented car in Brownsville, Texas.

Hammar Sr. reported that his son was released from the border prison at 8 p.m. local time, and although suffering from a stomach virus, he made it back across the bridge between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas by about 8:30 p.m.

Hammar had been arrested at the same border crossing Aug. 13, after he tried to declare a dissembled antique shotgun. 

"We're both tired and at our wits end," Hammar Sr. said. "We're glad he's out of there."

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Though many officials have their fingerprints on Hammar's release -- notably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio -- without a doubt the star of the show is Ros-Lehtinen. 


The Miami Republican used her indomitable spirit and guile, plus her position as chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to put pressure on U.S. and Mexican authorities.

By all accounts, she went above and beyond the call --

  • meeting with Hammar's parents and lawyers;
  • moving to get a 70-member, bipartisan petition signed in Congress;
  • rustling up officials on both sides of the border to keep the prisoner protected from ransom-minded, drug-cartel thugs;
  • and perhaps the cleverest of all, involving FOX News and a legion of foreign press to create an international embarrassment for the Mexican government.


The congresswoman was in the background everywhere, whipping up sound and fury.

"Constituent service is what I live for," an energized Ros-Lehtinen told FOX News Friday night.

We have here a two-fer Christmas story. We have the return of an American service veteran, a young man who believed every day he was moments away from being killed. And with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen we have a glimpse of what our elected leaders are at their best, what they can do in their finest hour.

Too often we focus on the worst in the people we elect -- on the earmarks, the  junkets, the double dips, the fiscal-cliff shenanigans, all of the mindless bad behavior inside the Beltway. It's refreshing once in a while -- certainly it is this Christmas when we remain in the shadow of a murderous tragedy -- to realize that when all is said and done, some officeholders really do deserve the job.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859. 






Comments (1)

EmeraldCoaster
7:26PM DEC 28TH 2012
Kudos to the good congresswoman, but I wouldn't consider hands-on constituent support ever "above and beyond the call."

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