That is the case for the son of Xiyue Wang, a Princeton doctoral student jailed on bogus charges in Iran, and his wife Hua Qu, who recently made an impassioned plea for the US to help free Wang before their young son forgets about his dad.
The speech was delivered on Friday September 15, at a candlelight vigil organised by Princeton students.
Qu admits that she has troubling remembering what her husband looks like because of the sheer amount of time they have been separated, so one can only imagine what it must be like for their son.
In a recent interview, she said that their son is showing less interest in speaking to his father when Wang is able to call from prison, and mentions him less and less.
Wang, a 36-year-old naturalized US citizen, was in Iran during 2016 to study historical documents from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and had full permission from the Iranian Regime to be there for that purpose.
Wang was convicted of espionage on behalf of the US and sentenced to 10 years in prison, in July.
The US Government, under Obama and Trump, kept Wang’s imprisonment a secret in order to broker a humanitarian release but this is no longer possible, so Qu wants more to be done diplomatically and for the US government to “defend the values” of academic freedom that drew Wang to study there.
She said: “Will his country stand up for him the same way he stood up for American values? I hope the answer is a resounding yes.”
She asked the US to look beyond meetings related to the nuclear deal and instead discuss the fates of American prisoners in Iran, like Robin Reza Shahini, and Iranian-Americans Baquer and Siamak Namazi, an elderly father and his businessman son who are facing 18 years for threatening national security and serving 10 years for espionage respectively.
Back in July, Trump promised “new and serious consequences” unless Iran released them but has not provided details.
A State Department spokeswoman said: “This administration is redoubling efforts to bring home all Americans unjustly detained abroad.”