January 12, 1956 - February 22, 2012
"A Woman of Valor"
Friday, February 22, 2013 marked the one year anniversary of the tragic death of East Norwich native Marie Colvin, an award-winning journalist and correspondent for The Sunday Times of London. Marie was killed during a rocket attack in the city of Homs, Syria as she covered a fierce government crackdown on rebel forces.
Marie Catherine Colvin was born on January 12, 1956 in Oyster Bay, New York, to William and Rosemarie Colvin, both school teachers. Her father was a former US marine who had served in World War II. Marie, who attended Oyster Bay High School was the eldest of five children, and is survived by her mother, two sisters and two brothers.
Marie started her career in New York City as a reporter for United Press International (UPI), a year after graduating from Yale. In 1984, she became the Paris bureau chief for UPI, moving to The Sunday Times in 1985. From 1986, she was the newspaper's Middle East correspondent, and later became its Foreign Affairs correspondent.
Specializing in the Middle East, she also covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and East Timor. In 1999 in East Timor, she was credited with saving the lives of 1,500 women and children from a compound besieged by Indonesian-backedforces. Refusing to abandon them, she stayed with a United Nations force, reporting in her newspaper and on television. They were evacuated after four days. She won the International Women's Media Foundation award for Courage in Journalism for her coverage of Kosovo and Chechnya. She wrote and produced documentaries, including Arafat: Behind the Myth for the BBC. She is featured in the 2005 documentary film Bearing Witness.
Marie lost the sight in her left eye due to a blast by a Sri Lankan Army rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) on April 16, 2001 while crossing from a LTTE controlled area to a Government controlled area; thereafter she wore an eye patch.
LEFT, FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES/NI SYNDICATION; RIGHT, FROM TRUNKARCHIVE.
HER WAY Marie Colvin takes notes in a bombed-out house in Homs, Syria, on her last assignment. The photograph was taken by Paul Conroy, who was with her when she died, days later. Right, a 2008 portrait of Colvin by the photographer and musician Bryan Adams.
Marie had a reputation as one of the most courageous foreign correspondents of her generation. She noted the importance of shining a light on "humanity in extremis, pushed to the unendurable", and stating "My job is to bear witness. I have never been interested in knowing what make of plane had just bombed a village or whether the artillery that fired at it was 120mm or 155mm."
In her last interview, speaking with Anderson Cooper of CNN, she described the “horrific” experience of watching a two-year old Syrian boy die from shrapnel wounds. “That baby probably will move more people to think,” she said. “What is going on and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening every day?" When asked about the Syrian regime claims of not hitting civilian targets and only going after terrorists, Marie’s response revealed the chilling, untold truth. “Every civilian house on this street has been hit. We're talking about a very poor popular neighborhood. The top floor of the building I'm in has been hit, in fact, totally destroyed. There are no military targets here…so it's acomplete and utter lie that they're only going after terrorists. There are rockets, shells, tank shells, anti-aircraft being fired in parallel lines into the city. The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.” Just hours later, Marie was killed.
Marie’s funeral took place in Oyster Bay, New York on March 12, 2012, in a service attended by over 300 mourners including those who had followed her work, friends and family.
The Colvin family established a memorial fund in memory of Marie at the Long Island Community Foundation. The fund makes donations to charitable and educational organizations that reflect Marie's life long dedication to humanitarian aid, human rights, journalism and education. The humanity of Marie’s work was greatly admired all over the world. The Long Island Community Foundation is honored to host the memorial fund of such a profoundly talented and courageous journalist.
In April 2012, On the Front Line, a collection of Marie’s finest work, was released last year in the UK and in the US Fall of 2013. Publisher Harper Collins donated proceeds from book sales to the Marie Colvin Memorial Fund at LICF. On the Front Line, among other extraordinary accounts, includes her various interviews with Yasser Arafat and Colonel Gadaffi and reports from the strongholds of the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers. It’s a street-view of historic events that have shaped the last 25 years from an award-winning foreign correspondent and an outstanding journalist of her generation.
On February 5th of this year, Stony Brook University officially opened the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting. The center’s mission is to train a new generation of international reporters. “That is the ultimate price that people who are dedicated to tell you the truth sometimes pay,” Christine Amanour, chief international correspondent for CNN and ABC News, Marie’s friend and colleague, said during a keynote address at the opening.
You can learn moreabout Marie’s life and work at www.mariecolvin.org. If you are interested in donating to the fund you can do so by sending a check payable to the Long Island Community Foundation, reference “Marie Colvin Memorial Fund” on the memo line, and mail to:
The Long Island Community Foundation
900 Walt Whitman Road, Suite 205
Melville, NY 11747
Listen to the WNYC Leonard Lopate radio interview where Marie's sister Cat Colvin and colleague Paul Conroy discuss Marie Colvin’s life and work.