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Previous | Next :: A Celebration of the Life Of Marie Colvin : Bosnian Serb Fighters during the Civil War : Bosnia | May 16, 2012, 8:22 pm

A Celebration of the Life Of Marie Colvin : Bosnian Serb Fighters during the Civil War : Bosnia
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Today was Marie Colvin's Memorial ........... It was a very moving service ......... normally St Brides off Fleet St would be the place for a big commemoration of a fallen war correspondent ....... But the traditional church of journalists would have been much too small for this service to celebrate the life of Marie Colvin. She was not just any war correspondent she was recognized by many as the greatest war correspondent of her generation. Even President Obama paid tribute to her on learning of her death bravely covering the government slaughter of its own people in Syria.

As it was even St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square was not really big enough, with the 'great and the good' and 'Fleet Street's finest' rubbing shoulders with many an admiring reader who had followed Marie's reporting for 20 years and loved and missed her. The beautiful church was completely packed. William Hague Britain's minister for foreign affairs was in attendance as was a previous holder of that post under Labour ; David Milliband who read a poem.

John Witherow The Editor of The Sunday Times gave a wonderful eulogy to Marie as both a close friend and as her editor. Beautiful words of poetry specially written in tribute were spoken. An emotional tribute was paid by Marie's friend and colleague from the front line, Lyse Doucet of the BBC, who called Marie not only 'The bravest of the brave but also the kindest of the kind' ....... It was all very moving....... I thought of all the amazing things Marie had achieved in her life, how she had touched the lives of so many ............. I thought back to the last time I saw Marie alive ..... I was at her rather wonderful house on the Thames ....... at her Christmas Party.......... she loved to party ......

At the end I saw the writer and broadcaster John Sweeney....... The last time we worked together it was in Bosnia for The Observer ......... we did some heavy stuff together......... he was with me when I shot this photo above..............

He said he thought the service was beautiful and completely right......... but also completely wrong.......

I knew what he meant........ I laughed with him that some church guy had tried to stop me coming in....... because I had cameras........... I know that Marie would have laughed at that........... She would have liked to see some of her scruffy companions with their ubiquitous cameras represented at the celebration of her life........

And she would have enjoyed the drink with whole crew at the end as much as the formal bit .............

Inevitably on a day like this.... I think back to the days when other journalists I knew were killed ........ in South Africa and in Bosnia..........

On a day like this I wonder if it can ever be worth it.............

Another thing happened today...... Ratko Mladic went on trial at the Hague ....... the leader of the Bosnian Serb forces that had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the illegal Bosnian Serb campaign to ethnically cleanse parts of Bosnia of it's Muslim population during the civil war.............

I watched him on TV in the dock......... he is responsible for the genocide at Srebrinica ..... where more than 7000 men and boys were systematically slaughtered by men under his command.............

I am glad to see him answer for his crimes in court.

As I watch......... I have a thought.......... that Marie and Sweeney and all the others........ photographers like Jon Jones ............ who I also saw at the service........... and of course photographer Paul Conroy, who was there at the service and was severly injured in the attack when Marie died ........ and the award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik who died with Marie ....... and to a very tiny degree me ......... in fact all journalists who have covered war ...... we all helped........ to a greater or lesser extent. Yes, we all helped to put Ratko Mladic and his ilk on trial ........ we have helped to create a world were these crimes do not pass unnoticed ......... by shining the light of exposure on to dark war crimes the world knows what happened ......... it means that these acts cannot be carried out with impunity ......... and that hopefully it stops more happening...........

Maybe put like that........... maybe........ just maybe ..... it might be worth it to take the risk ......... I would like to see those ordering the shelling of innocents and the targeting of journalists in Syria exposed ......... I would like to see them on trial in the Hague for deliberately killing innocent civilians and deliberately silencing a beautiful person who was risking everything so that those crimes would not remain hidden.

Cheers Jez XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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