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Marquette community shows sympathy for captured journalist

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Marquette community shows sympathy for captured journalist

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Diane and John Foley, The parents of James Foley, a 1996 alumnus of the College of Arts & Sciences, were on campus Friday evening for a vigil held in their son’s honor in the Chapel of the Holy Family. Foley was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Syria last November while freelance reporting for the GlobalPost on the country’s civil war.

About 30 friends, family, and Marquette students and alumni were in attendance to show respect for Foley, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Emily Wacker Schultz, a senior engagement officer in the Office of Engagement and Outreach and one of the organizers of the vigil, said the university began planning for the event six weeks in advance.

“We were in touch with the family shortly after the news of Jim’s capture was made public (in early January) to offer support from the Marquette community,” Schultz said. “We began planning when we learned the Foleys would be able to be here in person.”

Diane and John Foley spoke in reflection at the vigil.

“Aside from being his parents, we consider Jimmy a son of Marquette as well,” Diane Foley said. “This university opened his eyes to service.”

John Foley said the best quality he has found in his son is his ability to be a friend.

“The greatest joy one can have is to call someone a friend,” he said. “Jim became a friend to the Syrian people and joined in their desire to be free.”

Santonio Ancona, a friend of Foley and a victim of Hurricane Katrina, also spoke at the event.

“I was losing hope (after Katrina),” Ancona said. “But James was a good person and was determined to share my story and the stories of all others who feel they have no voice.”

Ancona said he was treated differently by the American government after the hurricane.

“I was called a refugee,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Am I no longer a citizen of this country?’”

April 5 marks the two-year anniversary of Foley being captured by the Libyan government, which held him captive in a Tripoli jail for 44 days in 2011. He was released after an international campaign run by friends from Marquette, former colleagues at Teach For America and family in New Hampshire.

Dan Hanrahan, who attended Marquette with Foley, spoke at the vigil.

“When he returned from Libya, I hinted around if he was ever going to settle down or not and get a normal reporting job,” Hanrahan said. “I could just tell it wasn’t in him, but at the time I didn’t understand why.”

Hanrahan said he is neither frustrated nor mad at Foley for returning to a dangerous location.

“We need people to go and show the world the things that we take for granted,” he said. “The world needs people who aren’t afraid to go into dangerous situations to make sure others’ stories are told.”

Hanrahan also spoke about his time at Marquette with Foley.

“He was the guy who was always looking for a bed to sleep in because he was locked out of his room,” Hanrahan said. “Also, he was from the East Coast and had a funny accent.”

John and Diane Foley explained their use of biblical passages to make sense of James’s capture.

“Reading about the Israelites captured by the Babylonians in the (Old) Testament has reminded us that God will never forget anyone,” she said. “Just as the Israelites prayed for their freedom, we pray for Jim’s safe return.”

Supporters for Foley’s release can sign a petition at www.freejamesfoley.org.

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