Smart shows inspirational courage

Published 9:46 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

America’s collective heart broke when the blond hair, blue-eyed 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her Utah home nearly 10 years ago and found after what she called “nine months of hell.”

The now 23-year-old college student basically uplifted the country as she showed courage and unbreakable spirit that can inspire us all.

The young woman calmly addressed her kidnapper and rapist, Brian David Mitchell, as he was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.

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Smart had every reason to allow her imprisonment, repeated rape and abuse to derail her life. How could anyone have blamed her if she simply couldn’t move on from the sort of trauma that could easily break many people.

But Smart didn’t allow the abuse to define her.

Instead, her response spoke volumes and carried more weight than would seem possible for only 30 seconds of words.

“I don’t have very much to say to you. I know exactly what you did,” Smart said, according to Associated Press reports. “I know that you know that what you did was wrong. You did it with full knowledge … but I have a wonderful life now and no matter what you do, you will never affect me again.

“You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned. You will have to be held responsible for those actions, whether it’s in this life or the next, and I hope you are ready for when that time comes.”

Elizabeth Smart’s story captured the nation’s attention nearly a decade ago. The woman’s strength and example can inspire for years to come.