Marie Colvin: A defiant optimist

It is no coincidence that the rain relented and the sun shone down on the church of St Martin- in-the-Fields in London today.

Because the life we gathered to celebrate was assuredly and defiantly an optimistic one.

Surprising, I grant you, given that Marie Colvin had devoted so much of her working life to the darker side of human existence; to the war zones where the journalistic staple is violence, suffering, atrocity, chaos and pain. So much pain. So much injustice. Marie’s joke was that for war correspondents there was no chance of unemployment.

Marie Colvin

Yes, you’d have thought that bearing witness to the very worst of man’s inhumanity to man, meant this would be a reporter consumed with a pessimism so unremitting it would devour her.

But it was the great paradox of Marie.

She really believed. She believed journalism could make a difference. She believed “being there” could make the bad people think twice, could stay the hand of tyrants and could maybe, just maybe, make things better.

After she lost an eye under fire in Sri Lanka, I once asked her why she kept doing what she did. “I just think ultimately we need to do this. I just think people care.”

She died bearing witness to ghastliness in the hope, nay, the belief ,that someone ,somewhere cared.

Marie died, still an optimist. That’s why the sun shone on that church today.

Marie Colvin covering Egyptians' uprising in Tahrir square, Cairo, Egypt, 04 February 2011 Credit: EPA/IVOR PRICKETT/THE SUNDAY TIMES

William Hague and David Milliband were amongst those at the Marie Colvin memorial service: