I am fascinated by war correspondents because they’ll stop at nothing to place themselves in harm’s way. As bullets and missiles fly all around them and they’re engulfed by riots, they steadfastly give us the news. I’m not sure I admire them or think they’re a bit nutty; perhaps it’s a little of both. But I acknowledge they fill a critical need. How else would we know about many of the atrocities taking place in war-torn countries?
Marie Colvin, a FOF killed yesterday by a Syrian artillery barrage, had a 30-year career reporting in war, most of it for The Sunday Times of London. Blinded in her left eye by a shrapnel fragment during an ambush in Sri Lanka in 2001, she didn’t quit. “Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction, and death…and trying to bear witness,” she said in 2010, according to a story in yesterday’s New York Post. “It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash.”
Divorced from her first husband (to a war correspondent), she was already in a severe depression from the episode in Sri Lanka, when her second husband (a Bolivian-born journalist and writer) shot himself. Not the stuff of fairy tales.
Watching a baby die was one of the last acts of horror that Marie witnessed before being slain. “Watched a baby die today,” she wrote. “Shrapnel, doctors could do nothing. His little tummy just heaved and heaved until he stopped. Feeling helpless…Will keep trying to get out the information.”
Interviewed after her daughter’s death, Marie’s mother was the essence of grace as she talked of her daughter’s commitment to her career, which began when Marie was in her twenties. By the time Marie was 35, she was already a seasoned veteran of conflict in the Middle East. “Talking to her about the dangers of her job would have done no good,” her mother explained. They clearly defined her life.
Again, I am saddened by the loss of another fine woman in the prime of her life. And a distinguished, selfless life it was.