By Emma Buchman
No one deserves to be well known for their death because death signals the ned of their contribution to mankind. Martyrdom is a theme that occurs repetitively throughout history. While it can signify one of the most honorable forms of sacrifice, it also means discord and heartbreak to innumerable amounts of others.
I am deeply sorry to say that we live in the midst of one of those times. So many people die each day indiscriminately; men, women, and children are killed for war, pleasure, even honor. One man made it his mission to show the world the inside perspective of these atrocities, and now I am making it a priority to honor his commitment to humanitarian journalism.
James Foley was a free-lance reporter that helped to expose the harsh realities that modern-day Syrians face everyday. His friends said that he was always willing to tread where no one else dared and that his dedication to outstanding journalism was unparalleled. During the week of Aug. 18, the world discovered that this honor and dedication had been brought to a brutal end when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video on Twitter of Foley being executed. He had been missing for two years after being captured in Syria in November, 2012.
This article is not trying to say that the main reason we know James Foley’s name is because of his death. We know it because of his dedication to his work, from his compassion for humanity. This article is not being written to acknowledge his passing, but rather to commend Foley for his humanitarian efforts throughout the world, and to show that his humanity makes him worthy of our attention just as much as any other human being. Foley had friends that will miss him everyday. He had brothers, a sister, and parents who are living in heartbreak from the loss of a beloved son and brother.
Because of the violence of this world and the unjust nature of world society, Foley will not see these people again. He will never be able to attend his sister Katie’s wedding, swap stories in Germany with his friend John. He will never take his grandmother out for margaritas like he promised.
All of us have had moments like these with the ones we love, and so I think that relating our own narratives with that of Foley will not be so much of a stretch. Bishop Peter A. Libasci summed up what Foley’s passing means to the entirety of this world at a Mass held in Foley’s honor, “This moment in our lives is international in scope; crossing all boundaries, yet very personal… [We are] bound together by a deep sense of human compassion and heartfelt remorse.”
This is what Foley dedicated himself to doing everyday: to bring the international community together through a common feeling of mourning for our fellow human beings. The best way to continue to honor his legacy is to come together as a family, whether it is in your nuclear family or your global one. and unite against the corruption and suffering of our friends across the world.
In parting, I wish to ask a small favor from the Washington College community and Elm readers everywhere. Do not remember Foley in death. Don’t look for reminders of it and don’t become a witness to it. Would you like it if your loved one’s death was posted to the Internet for the entire world to see? You can never, ever have that piece of privacy back. So respect the wishes of Foley’s family and friends and do not watch or look for the video of his death. It is an insult to his memory and to his family.
Foley was not just one person. He was one of us. All of us here at Washington College are trying to make a difference in a horrible, twisted world. Foley was one of the decent people in this trying to show citizens across the world about the strife of our fellow human beings.
Remember James Foley in life. Remember him as a reporter, humanitarian, son, and friend. Remember him as a fellow human being.