April 26, 2005
The Damned of the West 3: Interview with Carrie Hallums Cooper (part 1)
American Roy Hallums was abducted from his temporary Baghdad home on November 1st, 2004. He was in Iraq as a civilian contractor working on rebuilding efforts. His mission had everything to do with helping the Iraqi people rebuild their country after decades of war, mismanagement, and terror under the Saddam Hussein regime.
I had the opportunity to have several e-mail conversations with both Susan Hallums and Carrie Hallums Cooper recently. They have graciously agreed to letting us interview them. What follows is part 3 in a series of interviews with the family of Roy Hallums. In part 1 and part 2 we interviewd Susan Hallums, Roy Hallums' ex-wife.
In this segment we interview Roy's daugther, Carrie Hallums Cooper, asking her the same questions we asked her mother. Carrie runs the website Free Roy. Carrie is 29 and makes her home in California where she also works. Carrie has an MFT (Masters of Family Therapy) and is currently pursuing a Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology. Carrie also is engaged in fundraising to help defray costs associated with freeing her father.
You can donate to the Free Roy Foundation by clicking on the Pay Pal button below.
Or you can send a check or money order to
Free Roy Foundation
c/o Carrie Cooper
PO Box 947
Westminster, Ca. 92684
Rusty Shackleford: Can you tell our readers a little something about the kind of man Roy is?
Carrie Hallums Cooper: My Dad is the most giving person I have ever met. He did whatever he could to help his family and friends. Some other words that describe him are: thoughtful, kind, intelligent, quiet, athletic, funny, and fun. No one, besides my Mom, has ever treated me as well as my Dad has. My Dad, though far away, was always there for me. He called me all the time and sent me e-mails every day or so.
My Dad has many interests, both socially and intellectually. My Dad likes playing chess with me, going to art museums, walking on the beach or just being in nature (he likes being outdoors), riding his bike, going out to eat, reading, and he likes to listen to classic rock music (which my Mom always hated). He kept up to date on what was cool and hip, at least as much as he could being overseas.
My Dadâ€™s dream for when he returned home from the middle east was to have a house by a lake, to own a boat, and to go fishing on the lake. He had recently purchased a home in Memphis near a lake and was excited to buy a small boat so that he could go fishing. I hope that he gets to do that some day.
My Dad was very wise and he always gave me good advice. He encouraged me to continue to do well in school, and for that matter he supported and encouraged me in everything I did. I carry every piece of advice, and all of his love and support, as well as, every memory that we made with me everywhere I go. I treasure it because it may be all that I have left of my father.
RS: Roy was taken hostage on Nov. 1st of last year. 29 days later The Jawa Report was the first media outlet in the U.S. to release Roy's name publicly. However, we learned of Roy's captivity because the Filipino government erroneously reported that Tarongoy had been captured along with an American named "Roy Halluns". The only reason we found out his correct name was that a coworker of Roy's who knew him when he was working in Jordan happened upon our site and corrected the error. I assume that you were aware of his situation before you came across The Jawa Report.
Another American hostage has recently been taken from the same neighborhood in Baghdad as Roy. His name is Mohammed Monaf. Again, the American media refused to name him and we at The Jawa Report have only been able to identify him because of a reader in Romania who keeps us updated (he was captured along with two prominent Romanian journalist).
I guess what I want to know is if it caused you distress to come upon Roy's name over the internet (and I apologize if it did), or if it was a relief that his story was finally out in the open?
CHC: I remember the instant that I saw my Dadâ€™s name in print and on the internet. My mind began swimming and I had mixed emotions when I saw that his name had been released. I would have to say that yes, coming across my Dadâ€™s name on the internet caused me distress initially, because prior to that point I believe there was some denial about it being my father being taken hostage.
Also, I had been told that if his name was released that potentially this would be a very bad thing for my father. So, knowing this, it was scary to see his name in print, and also going back to the denial factor, seeing his name in print made my Dadâ€™s situation all the more real for me, and therefore all the more difficult for my family. In addition to this, I didnâ€™t know what the consequences of both his name being publicized and the news coverage were going to be, and what that would mean for my father.
On the other hand, when I saw his name on the internet, there was this sense of relief that washed over me. I had been told to be silent about the issue for so long, and had not been able to express myself. I felt as though I was suffering in silence. So, it felt good now that others knew what I was going through and I would be supported emotionally (I hoped), because I needed it.
My heart goes out to Mohammed Monaf and his family and friends. I can relate to what his family is going through. It is one of the worst things in the world, not to know.
Most of us take time with our loved ones for granted. You never know when a conversation you just had with your loved one could be your last. Time has become a precious commodity to me since my fatherâ€™s kidnapping. I have realized what little time we have with our loved ones on this earth, and how quickly and easily time with a loved one can be taken away. I donâ€™t take time for granted any more, and for that matter people either. I hope I will get to spend more time with my Dad in the future, and I hope Mohammed, my father, and the rest of the hostages are being treated humanely and will be released soon.
RS: You both have gone on record noting the frustration you've had at trying to get information out of the State Department concerning what they know about Roy's fate. Has the State Department been more helpful since such major media outlets, such as CNN, have publicized your cause? What could they do to be more helpful?
No, I would have to say they have not provided more information or been more helpful, at least in my opinion. Iâ€™ve just received one phone call from the State Dept this year and it was to tell me that they are giving the Baghdad police incentives (like flashlights) to look for my Dad. No comment.
RS: After some hostages were taken in Iraq there were international outcries, mass protests, and national days of prayer. Would you like to see something similar in the U.S. to protest what is happening to Roy?
CHC:It seems as though a report will come out about a hostage taken in Iraq, we all take notice, some more than others (especially if you are the family of the hostage), and then, as quickly as the story was reported, itâ€™s gone.
There is more coverage about the Michael Jackson Trial than Iâ€™ll ever want to see and other trivial matters (Iâ€™m not saying his trial is trivial- molestation is a serious matter), but other frivolous things in the news being covered, like Robert Blake singing at the top of his lungs because he didnâ€™t want to be interviewed. Things like that make the evening news, but nothing about my father, for example, who has been held hostage now for over 6 Â˝ months. I find this to be an outrage.
I donâ€™t know if many American citizens are desensitized to tragedy, since we see it in the news, TV, and movies, day after day, or if itâ€™s just indifference. But the lack of news coverage about hostage incidents may play a role in the lack of more U.S. public outcry regarding hostages in Iraq.
This coupled with the fact that, I think that the government is outwardly apathetic regarding hostages. They excuse this by saying that they do this so they do not put the hostage in more jeopardy. This of course, may have some validity to it, but I believe that our country could do more as a whole for hostages.
I think we could definitely acknowledge their presence more (when their names have been released and when the family is okay with it, etc.), and do some of the things that you mentioned in your question.
I appreciate all of the support we have received and I donâ€™t want to criticize those that have supported us, but I do feel there should be more public outcry on behalf of Americans on what is being done to Americans (being held hostage, tortured, beheaded, etc.). The lack of news coverage about hostages in Iraq frustrates and confuses me. At times it angers me. I feel that the issue tends to be swept under the rug..................
Part 2 of my interview with Carrie Hallums Cooper is here.