Siren’s Song

Reporter, James Foley, is drawn to conflict zones. When he spoke Marquette in December 2011, he said it was a “siren’s song that called me to the front lines.”

Foley Foley graduated from Marquette, though not the College of Communication. Rather, he studied Spanish and History. That global perspective served him well as he moved into the world. As I often tell my students, in many mass media fields you don’t necessarily need a degree in that subject. Rather, you need to be a student of culture. That he was.

That pull of the siren has again proved treacherous. On January 2, his family released the news that Foley was missing, again. The first time, back in April 2011 he was captured in Libya, while working for GlobalPost. That time he was released after 45 days, though a colleague was killed. This time they kept quiet hoping it would encourage his release. No such luck.

This time Foley was captured in Syria, near the Turkish boarder, while working for Agence France Presse (AFP). It happened on Thanksgiving and witnesses reported that Foley was picked up at gunpoint, though gunmen later released this driver and the translator. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

AFP chairman, Emmanuel Hoog, said they are earnestly working to secure Foley’s release. The family has also launched a website,, and ask visitors to support their appeal for his release by signing the petition.

As a mother it would be a nightmare to have a child missing, abducted in a war zone. I sit quietly, mindfully taking this in. I am reminded that there are lessons in suffering. But as I think of all the violence in the world I cannot help but wonder why we humans seem to need such an abundance of lessons, of suffering. I think that no matter how long I sit I shall never understand.

James Foley is not the only missing journalist in Syria. Washington Post reporter Austin Tice, has been missing in Syria since August 13. He was last seen near the Lebanese border. Just two weeks ago NBC reporter Richard Engel and his crew escaped after being held by pro-Assad militiamen in the same region. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a watchdog group, in 2012 there were 28 journalist killed covering conflict zones.

I am still sitting. The one thing that keeps coming into my mind is knowing that Foley had once taught reading and writing to incarcerated felons. With that I sense a tiny thread connecting me to his mother, Diane Foley. A painful crystal of acceptance is beginning to form in my heart. I bow to each of them.



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