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Marie Colvin remembered as a fearless seeker of truth

March 12, 2012 2:47:00 PM PDT
Marie Colvin was remembered Monday as a fearless seeker of truth as hundreds of mourners, from media mogul Rupert Murdoch to immigrants who followed the strife in their homelands through her dispatches, paid their respects to the war correspondent.

A group of Sri Lanka immigrants held a placard calling Colvin the "uncrowned queen of intrepid journalists." A huge American flag hung outside the funeral home in Oyster Bay, N.Y., the town where the 56-year-old New York native grew up and decided to become a reporter.

Colvin worked for the Sunday Times of London, which is owned by Murdoch's News Corp. She was killed on Feb. 22 when the building that served as a makeshift media center in the village of Homs was struck by a Syrian army mortar.

"She was looking for beauty and truth, and she was telling the world about the vicious crimes," said Malek Jandali a Syrian-American musician whose family is from Homs. He came from Atlanta to attend the funeral at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church.

Seetharam Sivam, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, said he wanted to pay his respects because Colvin's writing a decade ago had brought attention to violence involving the Tamil ethnic group. Colvin lost an eye while covering the civil conflict in Sri Lanka in 2001 and wore an eye patch after that.

"She took the risks and went into war zones. She brought the truth of the Tamil plight to the world," Sivan said.

Colvin was killed while covering the government crackdown in Syria, where thousands of civilians have been killed since a popular uprising began a year ago.

The British government has ordered an investigation into Colvin's death to build a war-crimes case against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

In her final live broadcast with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Colvin told him the Syrians were shelling "a city of cold, starving civilians."

"It's a complete and utter lie that they are only going after terrorists," she added. "There are no military targets here."

It was a challenge to get Colvin's remains out of Syria amid the violence. A Polish diplomat received her remains from the Syrian Red Crescent, flying them home to New York via Paris.

Jandali said anti-government sympathizers hoped to have a street named after Colvin in Homs.

"She'll be inspirational to journalists all over the world because she was always there to help people," said John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times of London.

While many praised her daring and empathy during the funeral, her best friend from Yale University shared another side of the war reporter - the "pandemonium" and "mirth," as Katrina Heron called the lighter moments of Colvin's visits to the United States.

When the correspondent was back in Iraq several years ago, she emailed her friend, "I'm in Baghdad. You'd love it here. It's just like New York, except without cars, restaurants, shops, telephones, electricity or taxis."

As the funeral ended, Colvin's mother Rosemarie Colvin, stood in front of her daughter's casket with tear-filled eyes. She reached out to touch it with her right hand before putting a hand-held cross and a white rose atop the casket.

Colvin is survived by two brothers, two sisters and her mother.

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