Ten days before her 25th birthday, Kayla was captured while leaving a Spanish hospital in Aleppo, Syria, that was staffed by Doctors without Borders. Her Syrian boyfriend was captured, too, and released days later. He returned to Syria in an attempt to persuade ISIS to free Mueller, according to Fox News.
Nearly a year ago, Kayla wrote her family a letter from captivity and gave it to her cellmates, who were later released. Do yourself a favor and read the letter here. Share it with family and friends. Read it to your children and remind them that as scary as the world may seem, as hard as they might think they have it, Kayla saw the worst the world has to offer—and remained the best she could possibly be.
[J]ust the thought of you all sends me into a fit of tears. If you could say I have "suffered" at all throughout this whole experience, it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness.
I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it.
I pray each each day that if nothing else, you have felt a certain closeness + surrender to God as well + have formed a bond of love + support amongst one another.
None of us could have known it would be this long but know I am also fighting from my side in the ways I am able + I have a lot of fight left inside of me. I am not breaking down + I will not give in no matter how long it takes.
The thought of your pain is the source of my own, simultaneously the hope of our reunion is the source of my strength. Please be patient, give your pain to God. I know you would want me to remain strong. That is exactly what I am doing. Do not fear for me, continue to pray as will I + by God's will we will be together soon.
Kayla was not yet a teenager on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the United States and put Islamic extremism at the center of American life. She is part of a generation shaped by war, hard economic times, and technological transformation—a troika of forces that forged three of the greatest generations in U.S. history: the generation that founded the nation; the generation that elected Abraham Lincoln; and the generation that won World War II.
Today's so-called millennials are the largest generation in American history—one marked by its diversity, tolerance, social entrepreneurship, and dedication to civic engagement that defies national borders. That is Kayla.
In her letter home, she signed off, "All my everything, Kayla." In truth, Kayla is all our everything.