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Trump leads tribute for slain journalist James Foley

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 12. 2014 9:28PM
Diane and John Foley of Rochester, parents of slain journalist James Foley, attend the 2014 Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Awards presentation to their son on Wednesday night. The event was held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Three months after his death, New Hampshire-based journalist James Foley’s efforts to help people in the most troubled areas of the world continued with a posthumous honor Wednesday night.

Foley was the recipient of the 12th annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award, given annually to New Hampshire organizations or residents who protect or exemplify the liberties listed in the First Amendment to the Constitution — free speech and freedom of the press.

“What James was doing at the risk and ultimate loss of his life was telling stories of innocent people caught up in terrible, terrible circumstances,” said Donald Trump, the featured speaker during the banquet. “He did this because he felt those stories needed to be told. And he was right.”

Trump accepted the invitation to speak before Foley was selected as the honoree. Once he learned who was the recipient, Trump — well-known for not easily being humbled — said he learned more about the 40-year-old journalist beheaded by Islamic militants in Syria last August.

“He was far more brave than I’ll ever be,” said Trump, who was interrupted by applause during his remarks about Foley.

Trump also presented a $25,000 check made out to the James W. Foley Legacy Fund to Foley’s parents, Dr. John and Diane Foley of Rochester. The Foleys accepted the award on behalf of their son, who they said believed in his work and the protections established for him and all journalists in the First Amendment.

“Jim was obviously passionate about freedom of the press. He laid down his life to get the word out about the suffering of people in Syria,” Diane Foley said.

John Foley recalled how his son organized a group of colleagues to come up with $10,000 for an ambulance for a village they were covering. Foley said his son was also in Libya, where he was kidnapped and held for weeks. James Foley felt obliged to return to the region, despite the danger.

“He was a humanitarian I think as much as a journalist, but I think he was able to meld all of his strengths and aspirations into a journalism career,” John Foley said. “Most of the time his goal was to humanize the subject of his writing.”

The Foleys also brought a guest — Nicolas Henin, a freelance journalist from France who was held with Foley during part of his time in captivity. Henin received a standing ovation when he was introduced during the banquet. He said the award was a fitting way to honor his former fellow captive and carry on his memory.

“It’s always the same when you mourn someone. It’s never so difficult for the one missing. It’s always so much harder for the ones left behind,” Henin said. “They are the ones who need our support.”

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