Some stories do have happy endings

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

Tribune Staff

After months of waiting and wondering, Ed and Lois Smart had a moment usually reserved for made-for-TV movies.

On Wednesday, their 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was found - alive and well. She was found by police in a car with a drifter and another woman during a traffic stop outside of Salt Lake City. Elizabeth had been missing since she was abducted from her bedroom of her Utah home on June 5, 2002, and was presumed dead by many.

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All missing children deserve to come home to their parents the way that Elizabeth did. Unfortunately, most of the time they will not. For every Elizabeth Smart, you will find dozens of Danielle van Dams and Kristen Jacksons - children who never made it home to their parents.

Most parents could not imagine what the Smart family has been through these past nine months.

The Smarts, however, put a positive spin on their strife as they lobbied for the Amber Alert system to help other children and families.

On Thursday, Ed Smart challenged the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., to bring a bill creating a national Amber Alert system to the House floor "today, not tomorrow, not a year from now after conferences and going back and forth."

The Amber Alert system was designed to use a community's eyes and ears when children are abducted. Radio and television messages are also part of the system. Similar networks are in use in Ohio and at least 14 other states, and have helped police solve crimes and rescue kidnapping victims. The name honors Amber Hagerman, an Arlington, Texas, 9-year-old kidnapped and murdered while out riding her bike.

Like Ed Smart, we urge lawmakers to devote a lot of attention to the Amber Alert system so all missing children will have a better chance to be reunited with their loved ones.

Wednesday's discovery was nothing short of a miracle.

It was a great example of why no one should give up on finding a missing child. Perhaps more miracles can happen if we keep pushing for a better way of tracking missing children.