Ribbons down, Natalee still missing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

After six agonizing months, Mountain Brook is moving on. Sadly, the nation moved on a long time ago.

On Wednesday, the Birmingham suburb began removing the yellow ribbons that had hung as an omnipresent reminder of a lost teenager named Natalee Holloway as mother, Beth Twitty, crusaded through Aruba, Alabama and the continental United States to bring her daughter's suspected abductors to justice. The ribbons - now tattered and weatherworn - were placed in a large yellow box and dozens of supporters pledged their support to Twitty and her continued search for Natalee.

The removal of the ribbons comes just days after Gov. Bob Riley, with Twitty by his side, called for a boycott of Aruba, a heavily-frequented American tourist spot that will probably shrug off Riley's comments then tap the next bottle and twist the cap.

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It's no secret why islands like Aruba attract our nation's high school seniors. They have access to all those pretty bottles their parents have kept locked up in the liquor cabinet at home. Senior trips are the chance to live out all the party movies, videos and television shows their brains have absorbed since before puberty. It's a taste of college, before actually setting foot on campus.

Although his press aide said Riley had yet to do it, the governor is even trying to bring other states into the ‘Boycott Aruba' arena. Riley said he plans to write letters to the governors of all 50 states and encourage them to call for the same boycott.

While no-doubt motivated by Twitty's desperate search for answers concerning Natalee's disappearance, Riley's boycott plea is almost laughable. Quick: Were you going to Aruba anytime soon? Same here. My visit to Aruba probably ranked asŠsayŠsomewhere between cliff jumping off Mount Rushmore and dressing up as a feline in the Broadway revival of &#8220Cats” as the Top 100,000 things to do in my life before I die.

But if Riley wants I'll gladly pick up the chorus of the Beach Boys' &#8220Kokomo” at Jamaica instead of Aruba.

Plus, Riley's boycott comes a little too late for Natalee. On May 30, she walked out of a bar with three men she barely knew - probably drugged, or drunk, or both - and left us with questions we're still trying to answer.

But where were the questions before she left? From the parents? From school administration?

If there is one good thing that comes out of all this, maybe those are the questions other parents will ask in the future.

At least before they consider sending their children on a trip to &#8220paradise.”

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: editor@greenville.advocate.com.