Thursday, June 05, 2003

A worthy sendoff for a great journalist. Hundreds of people turned out this morning at the JFK Library for a memorial service for the Boston Globe's Elizabeth Neuffer, who -- along with her translator, Waleed Khalifa Hassan Al Dulaimi -- were killed in a car accident in Iraq on May 9.

I did not take notes -- somehow it would have seemed disrespectful -- but I can report that it was dignified, emotional, and fitting for someone whose foreign correspondence represented the best that the news media can offer.

Editorial-page editor Renée Loth presided over a program that included remembrances by editor Marty Baron, former Ambassador Swanee Hunt, staff reporters Farah Stockman and Anne Barnard, retired Globe staff member Susan Trausch [Correction: Trausch is still employed as an editorial writer for the paper], foreign editor Jim Smith, and Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power, who -- like Stockman -- credited Neuffer with starting her on her journalism career.

Especially moving was a tribute by her longtime companion, Washington-bureau chief Peter Canellos.

The Reverends Ray and Gloria White-Hammond opened and closed the service, which was held in a huge anteroom, a wall of windows behind the speakers, with Boston Harbor and the city skyline barely visible amid the fog and mist.

Neuffer's friends put together a memorial book called Remembering Elizabeth. It closes with this handwritten note:

To Whomever Finds This:

This is being written at the end of 1999 -- and at the beginning of a new millennium. It is also the end of a century, what has been one of the bloodiest centuries ever seen -- despite the incredible advancements mankind has made in science, the arts, and medicine. As a foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe -- which hopefully still is a newspaper that publishes in New England! -- I had some part in seeing some of this bloodshed while reporting on wars in the Gulf, Bosnia, and Rwanda. I would hope by the time you find this note, wars are extinct. But if they are not, please think again -- and stop them. I'd like to think the next millennium will be one in which people are not killed -- or prejudiced against -- because of their race, ethnicity or religion. In fact, all of us in 1999 are counting on you to ensure the future is one of peace. Please make it so.

Elizabeth Neuffer

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