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This is a different kind of “Watch This” post. On Wednesday this week, I saw a feature CNN’s Brooke Baldwin (transcript,) “The Man Who Lost His Past” (blog) was doing on Florida State University film school student John Wikstrom’s documentary, Finding Benjamin.
Finding Benjamin is an incredible, heartbreaking story about a man who was found beaten, unconscious behind a dumpster at a Georgia Burger King in 2004. He woke up in a hospital, not knowing where he was, or WHO he was. When he was found, he had no identification on him, no money, no clothing, literally nothing…and even after seven years the government doesn’t have any answers either. He suffers from what’s called retrograde amnesia. At the hospital he needed a name to go by while the doctors and nurses asked him questions, so from the Burger King initials, B.K. he picked Benjamin Kyle. Benjamin searches missing persons lists, hoping to find himself. He’s appeared on news interviews and shows like Dr.Phil hoping that someone will recognize him, and come forward. So far that hasn’t happened yet. Unfortunately there’s not a database for unidentified living persons. I was reading this interesting article that brought up this point, and says that they’ve been working on compiling a database for this criteria. Benjamin Kyle has been fingerprinted five times, and there’s no match in the system. Can you imagine what it’s like to be Benjamin, having no recollection of your life? His situation has been likened to the metaphor of being a walking ghost, since there’s basically no record of his existence on this earth. This shouldn’t be the case for anyone. Every single person’s life matters, it has value. Think about how much you use an identification card in your everyday life, even if you don’t have a license. You need ID cards for everything – from applying to jobs, signing up for credit cards, checking into homeless shelters. After the documentaries release he was issued a special Florida ID card, but it just has his picture and “Benjamin Kyle.” This isn’t enough. He’s managed to get along, without a SS card or birth certificate, especially with the help of caring people, but just think what a difference getting a social security number could make. Currently there’s a campaign on the We The People website to Grant Benjamin Kyle a new Social Security Number. It’s a really simple process to go to the website, set-up an account, and with a click of the mouse – sign the petition! Share this story, too. I feel bad that this has been going on for seven years, and it’s the first I’ve heard about it but just consider the magnitude of the internet. You never know who might stumble across this story and have information, or recognize him! This is a seriously mind boggling story, and I urge you to not forget about it after glancing at this post. Take action. Let’s use the power of the internet for more than just re-blogging funny GIFs, and Instagramming our meals. Even if the whole mystery isn’t solved, at least the current situation could be better.
Here is a video of the documentary, Finding Benjaman: