Memories of Marie


Marie Colvin made a very deep and lasting impression on all of us: her family, her friends, her colleagues, her international audience, and the innumerable victims of war, repression and disaster for whom she bore witness.

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On this memorial wall, Marie’s friends and supporters share their memories of Marie.

From Washington to Tripoli…

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO ‘THE DOWNHOLD WIRE,’ A NEWSGROUP FOR FELLOW FORMER UNIPRESSERS:

Marie Colvin! I remember the sweet-faced, gorgeous young woman with the black, lamblike ringlets – and the steel trap mind behind those sparkling eyes! We were both just starting out at UPI Washington in the early 1980s, and would run into each other occasionally at big Washington parties. In recent years we’d run into each other occasionally at big London parties & sometimes not even chat: just exchange eye contact and a little nod, acknowledging our shared history.

Thirty years later she was still a beautiful woman, with that lean, runner’s body, that fantastically lived-in face and the famous black eye patch … Wish I could have seen her at the tiller on one of her long-distance sails: she must have looked like a pirate.

We ended up at the same hotel overlooking Tahrir Square during the uprising, last year. She’d already had one very close call: interviewing the family of a young protester killed in custody, the rumor spread through the neighborhood that there was an Israeli spy in the house, and the family had to help her escape by hiding her in a back room & then letting her out a side door.

At one point, in Cairo, things got very, very hairy: we journalists got word we were going to be targeted by pro-Mubarak thugs; we were warned not to go out onto our balconies for fear of snipers; CBS pulled all but 5 of us out of the city center, and the rest of us had a planning meeting about escape routes and what to do if our hotel was overrun/set on fire. For once I was prepared to listen to the supervising producer’s pleadings NOT to go out at all, the next day: “You won’t be able to tell ANY story if you’ve been arrested or killed,” he pointed out.

Then, the next morning, I ran into Marie over breakfast. We traded tidbits about the security situation, agreeing it was pretty ominous.

“So… are you going out?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

And that was that: if Marie was going out, then I would go out. If Marie had said, no, then I’d have stayed in: any situation too dangerous for Marie was too dangerous for ANYONE.

I told this story to some CBS colleagues, yesterday. There was a little pause – and then we all acknowledged that, well, there probably weren’t ANY situations that Marie wasn’t prepared to enter.

The last time I met her was Tripoli, in the early days of the Libyan uprising. She gave me some tips on how to elude the government minders – but also warned me, correctly, that the dissidents had been driven too deep underground to reach, at that point. She was the go-to person for less well-connected journalists who wanted to get to Qaddafi: I suspect he was still taking her calls till close to the very end.

We laughed at the irony that we only ever met in war zones – even though we lived in the same part of London.

A couple of weeks ago, I turned onto my street and saw Marie cycling the other way. I should text her, I thought, and have her over for lunch. But I let it slide: there would always be another war zone, after all.

In a panel discussion last night I was asked what “lessons” could be drawn from Marie’s death. I resist that word – because it implies she made mistakes that directly led to those final minutes. But I am starting to wonder about the after-effects:

I wonder how many of us, consciously or unconsciously, faced with going into yet another hellhole thought: well, Marie Colvin’s been to plenty of even hairier places than that and she’s survived.

Most of us are still processing the fact of her loss. Eventually, though, I wonder how many of us – consciously or unconsciously – will recalibrate our sense of risk, the next time we’re asked to go someplace deeply dangerous.

Maybe the ultimate “lesson” or meaning of Marie’s death is the reminder that if you cover wars there’s a chance you’ll die in one.

In the same panel discussion, I pointed out that Marie, herself, would have considered the deaths of innocent civilians trapped in Homs to be far more newsworthy than that of a couple of journalists who chose to be there. But, then, that’s what kept sending Marie back into the forsaken, war-torn, wounded corners of the world: to give a voice to those denied a voice.

I thought we’d be disreputable old ladies, together, still running into each other at big London parties and cackling gleefully over our chequered pasts.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

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The Syrian people will remember her forever.

Marie Colvin sacrificed her life trying to save the Syrian people from being slaughtered by their own government, I didn’t meet Marie personally but her legacy will live forever in my heart and in all the Syrian people that she was trying to save. We created a page in her honor on Facebook.

My heart and my condolences goes to her family and I hope we can bring her home to her family so she can find peace.

Sincerely
Mohamad

From Annie Lennox

I just wanted to share the blog I posted on the day, after I read what happened…I was trying to express the measure of my profound respect and admiration for Marie, and everything she stood for.

Exceptional men and women, who are prepared to put their own personal safety and security on the line, in order to bear witness to what would otherwise go unnoticed, are the rarest and most precious treasures in the world. It was an absolute honour to have met her.

The post:
“I’ve just learned the terrible news that veteran war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in the besieged Syrian town of Homs earlier today, after the house that she was staying in was shelled. Marie was one of those special people that made you stand in awe. Boundlessly courageous, and passionately dedicated to justice and human rights, exceptional and exemplary, she was simply outstanding. I am deeply saddened to hear that her life has been taken, and bow my head to her nobility, and everything she stood for. My profound condolences go out to her family and friends.”

With love and deepest sympathy from Annie L.

In Libya with rebel forces, 2011REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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