This is Bashir Al Megaryaf. He’s holding a poster demanding the release of his father, imprisoned in a Libyan jail for two decades. Bashir was only 1 when his father was detained. He has not seen him since.
But he has new hope in his heart that the two may be together again as the Libyan uprising against strongman Moammar Gadhafi gathers steam.
Bashir was among a crowd of Libyans demonstrating in front of CNN Center in Atlanta on Saturday. I had just finished writing a main Libya story for CNN Wires and CNN.com; had watched gruesome videos and listened to the on-air descriptions by witnesses of Gadhafi’s bloody crackdown that was unfolding in Libyan cities and towns.
Writing about the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been overwhelming — they are such powerful stories of human perseverance and courage. I wished so many times that I might have an opportunity to cover the story from the ground.
Thus far, I have seen it only from the CNN newsroom.
So when I stepped out into the gloriously sunny and warm afternoon Saturday, accosted by thousands of people attending a hair show, a cheerleading convention and a circus, I felt compelled to walk over the waving Libyan flags and the voices that rang out the loudest on Marietta Street.
Meeting Bashir brought Libya home for me. I have been reading a new book of my father’s writings and could not imagine a life without ever knowing him. Suddenly, the idea of freedom in Libya, a nation have never visited, became very personal to me.
I hope to write more about Bashir in the days ahead. Meanwhile, you can read about Libya and the rest of the region on CNN.com