In Memory p.12

By: DEBRA GERSH HERNANDEZ THE NAMES OF 934 journalists have been enshrined on a towering glass and steel spiral memorial overlooking Washington, D.C.
The Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial recently was dedicated in a ceremony that included first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and the colleagues and families of journalists whose names appear on the memorial.
The 24-foot tall structure includes the names of journalists around the world who were killed while performing their jobs or because of what they wrote, photographed or broadcast. Many of the names are from the Committee to Protect Journalists' annual compilation.
The first name on the list is that of James Lingan, who was trampled to death in 1812 while defending the printing press of the Federal Republican from an angry mob in Baltimore.
Empty panes of glass await the etching of additional names, such as that of New York Times reporter Nathaniel Nash, killed earlier this year in the plane crash that also killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
Some 40 additional names already are slated for inclusion, and the Freedom Forum will continue to accept nominations.
A touch-screen database at the memorial site will include the names of journalists not yet etched on the structure, but who will be added later in annual rededication ceremonies. The database also includes biographies of all the journalists on the memorial and their photographs, where available.
As part of the ambitious Newseum project, slated for completion next spring, the Freedom Forum revamped an overpass between its Arlington, Va., building and the USA Today building across the street. That area, now called Freedom Park, is where the memorial sits.
According to the Freedom Forum, the 149 panels making up the structure are made from dichroic glass, which is made from starphire glass with a dichroic coating that reflects colors of the light spectrum. The names are embedded in the glass, which is then laminated. It has been designed to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Calling the journalists honored on the memorial "truly democracy's heroes," Clinton noted that, "These men and women . . . put themselves in harm's way to bring light to places where others wanted only darkness. To give voice to stories that others wanted frozen in silence."
In addition, the first lady pointed out that medics and journalists are the only people who go into a war zone unarmed.
"Journalists put their lives in the line of fire for a single idea: to get the truth," she said. "Why? Because while a reporter may be no match for a mob or a bullet, what he or she reports does have the power to match."
During the dedication ceremony, Clinton laid a wreath at the base of the memorial. She was accompanied by David Bolles, the son of murdered Arizona Republic journalist Don Bolles, and his young son.
"Some have asked, why build a memorial to journalists? Nobody likes journalists much anymore these days," commented Freedom Forum president and CEO Charles L. Overby.
"We built it because we believe it is important to remind the public, in a highly visible way, of the great risks many journalists take to bring people the news ? to bring them the free flow of information that is freedom's lifeblood," Overby said.
"Of course this memorial encompasses our grief, but it holds our hope, too. And our faith," he added. "Our faith that those named here did not die in vain, that the light they shed in life will not fail us now.
"So, just as the sun propels light in all directions through this memorial behind me, let us work for a world that shines a cleansing light on its problems and solves them, instead of trying, as it so often has, to kill the messenger," Overby remarked.
Freedom Forum Chairman Allen H. Neuharth noted that, "We hope that the Newseum, this Freedom Park and this Journalists Memorial will help the public understand this great truth: Without a free press, no nation can be truly free."
The Associated Press has the unfortunate distinction of being the news organization with more names inscribed on the memorial than any other.
Six of the 22 AP correspondents on the memorial have been killed in the past four years alone, commented AP president and CEO Louis D. Boccardi, adding, "Never in the AP's 150 years have we lost so many so quickly."
Highlighting the careers and deaths of three of them, "so you see them as people," and as "symbols of the brave band they represent," Boccardi noted that, "Because of these brave journalists, and others like them, we know so much more of the world than we otherwise would know.
"As journalists, we have been harassed, beaten, shot, clubbed, tortured and held captive," he continued. "Those days are not over ? sadly; they will never end."
Representing the families of the journalists memorialized was Kathleen Eldon, the mother of Dan Eldon, a 22-year-old Reuters photographer who was killed along with three of his colleagues by a mob in Somalia in 1993.
"The majority of journalists we commemorate today died through acts of violence," she said. "And behind each one of the 934 names on the memorial there is, or was, a mother, a father, brothers and sisters, grandparents and, all too often, wives and children who mourn their loss."
Eldon urged journalists to "commemorate the lives of the courageous souls who have been martyrs to preserve the freedom of the press, of our minds, and of our spirits" by "lifting the consciousness of this world and moving others to action."
"Speaking as a mother, on behalf of all mothers," Eldon said, "I implore you, both as individuals and as the representatives of the most powerful media organizations the world has ever known, to reconnect your hearts and your heads to inspire, to stir, to stimulate, to allow the divine spark to flow through your writing, your reporting, your broadcasting and your publishing."
CPJ Chairwoman Kati Marton called the memorial a "wall of shame for oppressors" and noted that, "When a reporter is shot, it is not a personal crime, it is aimed at all of us."
Of the 475 "violent deaths" charted by CPJ since 1986, Marton said 300 have been "deliberate political assassinations."
A journalist who has seen firsthand the fate of many colleagues under a repressive regime, Omar Belhouchet, editor of El Watan in Algeria, remarked that in his country, journalists "have become the targets of choice" for Muslim fundamentalists and authoritarian public officials.
According to the English translation of his remarks, which he presented in French, Belhouchet said that since May 1993, "50 journalists have been executed in cold blood."
"Such violence has dealt a severe blow to freedom of the press," he said. "Since then, Algerian journalists have been working with a gun to their heads, unwilling hostages of terrorists in search of macabre publicity gains."
Belhouchet paid tribute to the murdered Algerian journalists and reaffirmed "our determination to continue fighting for freedom of the press in my country."
Newspaper Association of America Chairman John J. Curley, chairman, president and CEO of Gannett Co. Inc., commented that, "These journalists truly deserve this recognition.
"It is a reminder both to despots and decent leaders that journalists have an important role to play in shedding light on areas of turbulence, turmoil and trouble," Curley said.
Also speaking at the ceremony was International Federation of Newspaper Publishers (FIEJ) then-president K. Prescott Low, publisher of the Quincy, Mass., Patriot Ledger.
"These men and women have each paid the ultimate price," he said of those memorialized. "In doing so, they have each helped to ensure the future of a free and independent press around the world.
"Their sacrifice has reminded, and will continue to remind, generations of journalists of the risks and of the dedication that news gathering requires in free societies," Low said. "More importantly, this memorial will remind current and future generations of individual citizens . . . of the linkage between a free press and a free society."
The ceremony closed with a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace" and a prayer from the Rev. Canon John Oates of St. Bride's Church in London, often called the Journalists' Church because many services for slain journalists have been held there.
?(During the dedication ceremony, first lady Hillary Clinton laid a wreath at the base of the memorial. "Journalists put their lives in the line of fire for a single idea: to get the truth," she said.) [Photo & Caption]
?( Among Those Honored : Associated Press photographer Huyhn Thanh My was killed in October 1965 while awaiting medical evacuation after being wounded when the Viet Cong overran a South Vietnamese army position.) [Photo & Caption]
?(Joseph Morton of the Associated Press, the only
American correspondent killed by German guards
during World War II, died in a concentration camp in Austria in January of 1945.) [Photo & Caption]


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