New Hampshire Church Unveils Memorial to Honor of Conflict Journalist James Foley

ALTON – A granite memorial honoring the late conflict journalist James Foley was unveiled Sunday, Oct. 9, at Saint Katharine Drexel Church in Alton, NH. Foley, 40, who was captured in Syria and killed by ISIS in 2014, was a parishioner at the church, which his family attends.

After Foley’s death, his family created the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. It is dedicated to the safe return of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad and promotes safety education for journalists working in conflict areas.

At Sunday’s dedication, Diane Foley, James’ mother and president of the foundation, said, “Jim would have been deeply humbled by this beautiful remembrance. He would say, ‘I was just doing my job.’ He was curious, fun loving and hardworking like so many of you and your children here today.”

“James Foley was a remarkable man and he remains a powerful example,” said Father Robert Cole, pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish. “His courage, his faith, and his devotion to serving the poor, the disadvantaged, and those suffering as a result of conflicts provide a shining example of what one man can accomplish by his actions in this life and by his example forever. He is a truly heroic parishioner.”

When Jim became a conflict journalist, he said he had found his vocation, Diane Foley noted. “He was passionate about the importance of fellow Americans knowing about the suffering of other people amid conflict.”

Prior to his time reporting in Syria, he was held in captivity in Libya for six weeks. After that experience, at a speech at Marquette University, his alma mater, he said, “For some reason, I have physical courage, but that’s nothing compared to moral courage. If I don’t have the moral courage to challenge authority, to write about things that might have reprisals on my career, if I don’t have that moral courage, we don’t have journalism.”

The foundation’s advocacy work has been successful in a number of ways. “Just this past week,” Diane Foley said, “thanks to our hostage advocacy in Washington DC, we gratefully welcomed home seven U.S. nationals who spent five long years wrongfully detained in Venezuela and Iran.” 

The foundation is supported by donations and by participation in its activities. Among them, next Saturday, Oct. 15, will be the 5K Foley Freedom Run/Walk in Rochester, NH, a similar Run/Walk in Washington, DC, and a Virtual Run/Walk held all over the world in support of efforts to free hostages. Information on how to participate in and register for the run/walk can be found here.