Marie Colvin, truth and remembrance

By Bernadette Meaden
February 23, 2012

In November 2010 Marie Colvin spoke at a service in St Bride’s church London, held to honour the 49 journalists, photographers and support staff killed in war zones since the turn of the century. She spoke about the risks she and her colleagues take to bring us the truth about what is happening to innocent victims of conflict around the world.

She believed that her job was to open our eyes to the reality of war, saying:

"Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children."

Her dedication to this purpose was indefatigable, even after suffering the loss of one eye and severe post traumatic stress disorder.

And yet, strikingly, despite everything she had been through up to that point, she said:

"The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people, be they government, military or the man on the street, will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen."

This immensely brave and dedicated woman was risking her life, eventually losing it, and all she asked of us was that we take an interest and remember truthfully.

In one of her last reports Marie Colvin described casualties being brought into a makeshift clinic in an apartment, and estimated that 80 per cent of them were civilians, even describing how she had watched a baby die. This is the reality of war, not glory and honour but agony and grief.

The least we can do to honour Marie Colvin’s memory is to disregard the propaganda we are fed by those who promote war, and try to do something, no matter how small, to bring a little more humanity to the world. Here or here would be a good place to start. See also Ekklesia's report: "Reimagining Remembrance" which urges a more truthful recollection of the reality of war.


© Bernadette Meaden has written about religious, political and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is a regular contributor to Ekklesia.

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