She said she was worried. He said he understood. She begged him to be careful. He promised he would.
And with that, Jean Sutherland said goodbye to her husband as he boarded the plane that would return him to Lebanon and his faculty position at the American University in Beirut. Less than 24 hours later, word arrived here that Professor Thomas Sutherland had been abducted by terrorists just outside the Beirut airport and was being held hostage by the Islamic Jihad.
It happened exactly one year ago today. To remember the event -- and to remind a forgetful nation that her husband and other Americans are still being held hostage in Lebanon -- Jean Sutherland and several friends gathered here tonight for a "Tom Sutherland Vigil."
With yellow ribbons streaming from every tree, a crowd of people wearing red T-shirts bearing the message "Remember Tom Sutherland" met on the campus of Colorado State University, where Sutherland taught agriculture courses before he went to Beirut in 1983.
Jean Sutherland and the couple's three daughters were joined by relatives of two other American hostages -- the Rev. Lawrence Martin Jenco, head of Catholic Relief Services in Lebanon, and David Jacobsen, director of the American University Hospital in Beirut. Peggy Say, sister of another hostage, Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, sent a message.
June 9, 1985, is not a day that Jean Sutherland likes to remember, but she said that it is essential that it not be forgotten.
"It's really all we can do as families to keep the awareness alive," she said. "We can't find these captors and talk to them, but we can make sure that our government and the captors know that we will not give up."
The past year, Jean Sutherland said, has been one of "incredible ups and downs. One week, or day, you've heard some good news and you dare to think he might be released soon. The next day you're plunged to the absolute bottom, right into the abyss."
Shortly after her husband's abduction, Jean Sutherland flew to Beirut to take up her duties in an English-training program for Lebanese students.
Life in Beirut can be frightening at times, she said calmly. "But Tom and I had agreed that I would follow him back there, and when he was abducted, my resolve was even stronger to carry through with the plans we had made together.
"My goal is to keep a natural, normal continuity going so that when Tom is released, his life will be just as close as possible to the way it was before."
Jean Sutherland said she returned to the United States specifically to attend tonight's vigil -- and to talk to the relatives of the other U.S. hostages.
At the vigil, about 400 townspeople gathered in a spitting rain on the great oval at the center of campus. Bagpipers played "Scotland the Brave" in honor of Sutherland's native land. Colleagues and neighbors of Sutherland stood up to say how much he is missed by his city and by his university.
Then Jean Sutherland addressed the crowd in strong, determined tones. "We are gathered here tonight," she said, "to send out collective will from this oval to that prison, wherever it may be, in an appeal for freedom."
She described her life as an English teacher in Beirut: "Each day I walk past the spot where [American educator] David Dodge was kidnaped [in July 1982; he was released a year later], past the library that holds our memories of Peter Kilburn [an American University librarian who disappeared in Beirut in December 1984 and who was killed on April 17 of this year], past the memorial to Malcolm Kerr [president of the university, who was killed in January 1984] and into a classroom where I teach Lebanese students to speak English so we can talk with them instead of these things."
Fort Collins designated today as "Thomas Sutherland Day"; similar proclamations honored the other hostages in their home towns.
"We families seem to get together every few months or so," said Sue Franceschini of Joliet, Ill., a sister of Jenco. "And when we do, it's a confidence-builder. It helps you get get through another month without breaking down so much."
Franceschini and her sister, Mae Mihelich, came here for the vigil, as did Jacobsen's son, Eric, from Huntington Beach, Calif.
Family members who gathered here expressed exasperation at the media for ignoring the Beirut hostages -- some of whom have been held months longer than the 444 days endured by the U.S. hostages in Iran from November 1979 to January 1981.
"The lesson seems to be, if you're going to get kidnaped by terrorists, do it near a TV camera," said Eric Jacobsen. "NBC News will run a picture of the terrorist holding a gun to the head of a TWA pilot, because that has the right TV mystique. But they're not going to say much about our loved ones because all they can show is pictures of us standing around looking sad."
Jean Sutherland noted that almost every night, television news programs in France report on that nation's hostages in Lebanon, "just so people won't forget."
"And that's one reason we're having this vigil today," she said. "We need to keep the awareness alive, the awareness that American citizens are being held prisoner in Lebanon. We just can't let the country forget those men."