October 17, 2014 — Journalist and Marquette University alumnus James Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012 and slain in August 2014 by Islamic State militants, would have celebrated his 41st birthday on Oct. 18. Instead, he will be honored posthumously by Jesuit colleges and universities and the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, for his courage and dedication to reporting on the conflicts in the Middle East.
Jesuit colleges and universities across the country will join the Foley family in solidarity as they celebrate his life with numerous campus interfaith services, Masses and prayers. Schools participating include Canisius College in Buffalo, New York; College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; Fordham University in the Bronx, New York; Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Saint Louis University; Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama; and numerous others. A full list is available here.
Marquette University, where Foley graduated in 1996, will remember him during its Masses on campus on Oct. 19. Foley’s pride in his alma mater is seen in his widely-read piece, “Phone Call Home,” which he wrote after being kidnapped and released in 2011. Marquette held a memorial service for Foley after his death in August, attended by over 1,000 people.
Jesuit Father Michael J. Sheeran, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), said, “With the support of the AJCU Board of Directors and James' alma mater, Marquette University, we are proud to lead this initiative that unites our Jesuit colleges and universities in solidarity, and honors the memory of a Jesuit alumnus who was a true man for others and an American hero."
Additionally, the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, which celebrates those fighting to preserve and promote freedom and democracy around the world, will honor Foley posthumously with the 2014 Oxi Day Award “for his extraordinary courage in the defense of freedom and democracy.”
President Bill Clinton, who nominated Foley for the award, is expected to introduce Foley (via video) when the award is presented to his parents, Diane and John Foley, on Oct. 23 in Washington, D.C. Past honorees of the Oxi Day Foundation include blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. [Sources: Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Washington Oxi Day Foundation]