WASHINGTON — Following is the text of the statement by released American hostage David Jacobsen of Huntington Beach, Calif., upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.:
I hope that you have plenty of film.
I love America. I'm just so thrilled today that I'm here to be back with everyone and with my family. I have prayed for this day for 17 months. I was one voice in a chorus of millions of believers all over the world who share my faith in God.
There is one Psalm that has a special meaning for me; that's Psalm 27. It's just the last verse: 'I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord and the land of the living.' And, friends, I see the goodness of the Lord. We're in America and I'm free and we're going to get the other men free.
I was held captive for a very long time and it was my faith in God that sustained me. It has been said that adversity breeds greatness and that's so true. And I have seen a great growth in my children --Eric and Diane and Paul--their growth in wisdom and in maturity and in other special qualities makes me the proudest father that is standing on this tarmac today.
Throughout our very long ordeal, my family never lost hope. I give thanks to God for my wonderful family and for my many, many friends. We have been rediscovering each other during the last few days in Wiesbaden and, together with them, I must say that I'm really very proud to be an American.
But my happiness is tempered by the fact that some of those closest to me in this entire world are still held captive. Tom and Terry, I won't forget you and we won't forget you. And the same is true for Joe Cicippio, who is a dear, dear friend of mine, and for all the others who have been recently seized.
They must be freed. There is no cause, no political goal, which can justify holding these innocent men captive. They must be allowed to share the joy of a reunion with their families and their loved ones, and I'm just so very grateful to the staff at Wiesbaden Medical Center for making these past few days so special. They actually have become a part of my family, and I plan to go back to see them soon, hopefully, to be there to welcome the remaining captives back to freedom.
And finally, my friends, and my friends in Lebanon, I have an appeal. The bloodshed has gone on far too long. Too many innocent lives have been lost.
The American University of Beirut Hospital is a private institution serving all Lebanese communities. Every day, we saw the results of the tragedy that has become Lebanon on our operating tables, and, believe me, there is no difference between a Christian and a Muslim, between a Sunni and a Shiite. They are all human beings truly wounded human beings and their children bleed and are hurt just as ours bleed and get hurt. And the time has come to end this tragedy, and the time has come to end the tragedy now.
And I would pray that the leaders of the people of Lebanon will and must come together to rebuild that shattered land. The political decisions must be theirs, but the outside world cannot and will not be indifferent to their plight once they begin the difficult task of rebuilding their lives and their country.
And it is this sense of compassion, together with our dedication to freedom that has made this country, the United States of America, great.
And may I just take one moment to say a few words about a special man--Terry Waite. He's an amazing man who has contacts in Beirut and in the Middle East. I understand a great many private individuals have been working with him to gain our release. Terry Waite has not told me names or details. He is very careful, and he is just widely respected by all sections of the Lebanese society. He's carrying out his efforts for humanitarian, not political, reasons.
He may have saved my life, and I get upset when the cynics suggest that he is being used by outside governments or is a publicity seeker. He is not. He is a free, independent man, a man of God, and I love him.
And it is just great to be home. Thank you to everyone who has made this a day of joy and freedom possible. God bless you. I want to be with my family now. I know you want to ask questions, but my family is No. 1 right now. I plan to be like my little dad, who is 92 years old. You have 40 years to ask me questions, and now, thank you, I'll see you soon.