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Marie Colvin’s Body Comes Home to Oyster Bay

Wake to Be Held March 10, 11; Mass on March 12

The body of journalist Marie Colvin was scheduled to arrive at JFK airport on Tuesday, March 6, her mother Rosemary Colvin confirmed on Sunday, March 4.

“We’re making arrangements through the Oyster Bay Funeral Home and she will be there Saturday and Sunday. The funeral will be on Monday,” she said.

The wake at the Oyster Bay Funeral Home is on Saturday, March 10 from 7 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday March 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church on Monday, March 12 at 11 a.m.

Mrs. Colvin said Marie’s body was buried with a GPS device so she could be found. She was exhumed and the Red Cross brought her out of Syria and to Damascus, where a friend identified her body. Her remains were then sent to Paris, along with the body of French photographer Remi Ochlik aboard an Air France flight to Charles De Gaulle airport on Sunday, March 4.

Mrs. Colvin, her son Michael and daughter Cat spoke on CNN on Monday, Feb. 27, and asked that Marie’s body be returned on humanitarian terms, to “where she was born and where she grew up and where she belongs.”

Ms. Colvin and Mr. Ochlik were killed on Feb. 22 when rockets hit the building in Baba Amr, a neighborhood of Homs, Syria, that was being used as a media center.

Marie’s mother said Marie’s body was sent to London and that her Sunday Times of London Foreign Editor Shawn Ryan would be bringing her body back on Tuesday to JFK.

Mrs. Colvin said there is a website created by one of her daughter’s friends: mariecolvin.com, that people can go to. It has messages from her many friends as well as photographs of her and her last story.

“I feel at peace now. Next week the family will be going to London where there will be a large memorial service for her,” said Mrs. Colvin.

Marie had many friends in London and comments from them were about what a great dinner guest she was and what great stories Marie told. Mrs. Colvin said, “Yes, that was what was wonderful about her. She was very passionate about her work, but she was great fun in her own life. When she came home she was wonderful with her nieces.”

She said, “On Sunday, six young people from Syria came here. They brought the Syrian flag, which hasn’t been flown since the conflict. One was a pianist who played at the White House. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arranged for the concert. He gave us several tapes and he is wonderful.

“They told us about Syria and said they were grateful that Marie’s writing has brought out this information about what has been going on there to the world. The government controls the press and so this is the first time the story of what has been happening has gotten out. They were very grateful for what Marie has done.”

Marie was telling their story the day before she was targeted and killed, said Mrs. Colvin.

“Elected officials have been coming over and contacting us. Everyone has been very helpful,” she said. They had to cut through a lot of red tape at each step of the way and the family is just hoping that things will work out as they planned on Sunday evening.

Collateral Damage

When the family spoke on CNN, Michael Colvin said Marie taught them the meaning of the words, “Collateral damage” used in reporting on wars. He said she explained it meant the women and children, the non-combatants who were killed. The effort to help those people is being carried out by the Red Cross, today.

In a telephone interview on Sunday, International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson Simon Schorno confirmed what had been said in the national press this past week. He said, “We have been trying to get into Homs and Baba Amr but without success. But we were able to retrieve the mortal remains of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik three days ago and had flown them to Damascus. I don’t have any information beyond that.

“Since Feb. 21, we made a public call for a two-hour daily hold on the fighting so we could get into Homs and Baba Amr to bring medical aid and food and water and basic supplies and to evacuate people who were wounded and needed treatment. But since we made that call we couldn’t get into Baba Amr, the most affected district.

“This morning [March 5] we were a few miles out of Baba Amr and were able to start distributing aid to people.

“Many people were able to get out of Baba Amr and are now living with friends in other districts nearby, but that is difficult on the host families since it is hard to get food and basic supplies in those environments.

“There is also the issue of electricity and what hours of the day they get it and there are power outages because of the fighting. Some people have generators but it is very limited.”

Mr. Schorno added, “There were a couple more journalists who were taken out. They were evacuated and were on their way to Beirut, Lebanon but the Red Cross was not involved in those evacuations.”

“We work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent on the ground – because they are close and they have a network and volunteers and we have been working with them since the beginning of the fighting,” he said.

Mrs. Colvin had explained that the symbol of the Red Cross is not appreciated in those countries where it was the symbol worn by the Crusaders, and the Syrians prefer the crescent as their symbol.

Local Response

Marie Colvin’s death was being felt in the community last week. As the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual installation dinner at the Sagamore Yacht Club on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the evening began as New York State Senator Carl Marcellino asked for a moment of silence dedicated to Marie.

At the OBEN school board meeting later that night, Dr. Phyllis Harrington began her report by acknowledging Marie, an Oyster Bay High School graduate, and asked for a moment of silence. During the evening, Donna Fiore Houman asked that Marie’s portrait join those of three Oyster Bay High School students who died in the Vietnam War on the wall in the lobby. The school is considering other ways to honor Ms. Colvin.

The family has set up The Marie Colvin Fund at LICF (Long Island Community Foundation) at 1864 Muttontown Road, Syosset, N.Y. 11791.

Checks may be sent there and will be used for humanitarian causes. Sisters Cat and Aileen Colvin will administer the fund.