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Held Hostage

At our morning meeting, we tried to pin down the definition of "hostage." In the end, we deferred to Neal, who is more of an authority than we. In 1991, he and a few other journalists, including Chris Hedges, then of The New York Times, were taken hostage by the Iraqi National Guard. A hostage, he emphasized, is different than a captive.

After we dispersed, I consulted the dictionary. Here it is -- hostage -- as it appears in Merriam-Webster: "a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge pending the fulfillment of an agreement;" or "a person taken by force to secure the taker's demands." Absent from that definition is any sense of the intense emotion associated with the term. In the second hour today, we'll talk to two men who were held hostage, and we'd like to hear from you. If you've ever been a hostage, where was it? What was it like?

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David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.