When I read about the execution of our American journalist James Foley by terrorists on August 19, 2014, my heart cried. A complete feeling of sadness filled me to know that a fellow American has died for answering his calling to bring the world's attention to very serious global issues. Journalists around the world risk their lives daily to document events and to bring the news to the world community. Journalists travel to war zones, refugee camps and areas of natural disaster.
I remember when CNN's Nima Elbagir and her news crew reported from Chibok, Nigeria about the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram. She and her crew traveled to a very dangerous area to interview residents of Chibok about the schoolgirls and the intense fear for safety throughout the community. Nima Elbagir's journey to Chibok, Nigeria is just one example of the risks and challenges that journalists face to report the news.
Journalists and media crew the world over risk being kidnapped, harmed and silenced to tell the experience of others and to witness and document the most pressing global events of our time. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 1,072 journalists have been killed from 1992 to 2014. So far for 2014, 32 journalists have been killed in some of the most dangerous countries in the world by murder, combat and crossfire or other dangerous missions.
It is important to note that the target and harm of journalists and media crew during armed conflict is in violation of international humanitarian law. As a global community and collective voice we MUST demand the safety of journalists and media crew AND the prosecution of individuals that harm them. When terrorists, rebel groups and other international and domestic criminals kidnap, torture, harm or murder journalists, they are killing the voice of truth and depriving the world of a most sacred mechanism - historic documentation.
The execution of American journalist James Foley was shameful, inhumane and undignified. The world is a little darker now and we mourn the loss of this bright light. His courage, bravery and determination to bear witness inspires me and I am thankful that he lived. Even though I did not know him personally, I feel so much gratitude for his work and his sacrifice.
Let us remember James Foley, and all of our fellow world citizens that answer the call to report the news and tell the experience of others. Let us remember the important contribution of these truth tellers.
Here are a few words by James Foley in an interview that I think says it all --
"It's our job - I've been covering conflicts since Iraq in 2008. I am drawn to the drama of the conflict and trying to expose the untold stories but I am drawn to the human rights side." -- James Foley
May we honor and remember him always