Who Is Your Hero?

Yesterday I found out one of my heroes died. Anthony Shadid was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, based in the Middle East. He was a nice guy who was of Lebanese descent, and he grew up in Oklahoma City. He went to college in Wisconsin and from there, could have lived a comfortable life simply as a journalist for a local paper. He could have settled into an easy middle-class life, worrying about his tax bill, the cost of gas for his SUV, the score for his fantasy baseball team. He could have been any one of us.

But he decided to do more–much more–to understand, explain, examine, and report the conditions and lives of people in the Middle East during dangerous times, bringing empathy to both Middle Easterners and Westerners in a time when empathy and compassion are in short supply.

He was a brilliant and brave journalist. He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2004 and 2010 for his coverage of the Iraq War. He wrote a book about the Iraqi people and how the war has affected them personally. He was shot in Ramallah while reporting there. He was captured in Libya with a group of other journalists last year, certain of imminent death. Most recently he had been reporting from Syria, and he died from an allergic reaction to the horses he was riding on.

To be honest, I am heartbroken. Anthony Shadid was a representative of my generation and my nation, and I greatly admired his work and his philosophy. As JJ Sutherland wrote today, “[T]o me, Anthony’s most powerful legacy is his generosity of spirit, his optimism about a world whose dark side he knew well, and his penetrating insight into what made people tick.”

This is not a fashion entry today. I am sorry I have no pretty pictures. It’s just a tribute to one of my heroes.

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