Tuesday, August 10, 2004

R.I.P., Gloria Emerson: NOT a vacation post.

Gloria Emerson, one of the great chroniclers of the Vietnam War and its complex horror, is gone.

I've been thinking a lot about the Vietnam War, between the tales of the Candidate Who Went and The President Who Didn't. I should have been young enough to ignore it (I was 10 in 1968), but, thanks to two very politically engaged parents, I wasn't, and I didn't. Gloria Emerson's work was another reason--her essays, her reporting, her witnessing, made people understand what a terrible complication any war is, and that war was, in particular.

I was, I guess, lucky enough to meet her: she addressed my senior journalism class in 1979; the war was "over," over enough so that some of the students in the class were annoyed when she talked about it...it was so yesterday. She looked haggard. She looked like she wasn't back from where she'd been.

She was the first reporter I'd met from a big newspaper, and the first war reporter, and, oh yeah, the only woman war reporter. And now she has chosen to leave this world because her body broke down, and she couldn't write any more. Were she to be reborn, in this hectic media-drenched world, would she be a blogger, uploading her rage at war from everywhere?


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