In 2014, ISIS terrorists mocked the world by publicly murdering three American civilians. The first was freelance conflict journalist and humanitarian, James Wright Foley (Jim) whom ISIS tortured and starved for two years prior to ultimately beheading him. While dozens of other western journalists and aid workers held alongside Jim were freed through negotiation, British and American hostages whose governments refused to negotiate were not.

Jim was born in Illinois and grew up in New Hampshire. After completing his undergraduate degree at Marquette University, he joined Teach for America and served in Phoenix. Drawn to storytelling, Jim completed his MFA in creative writing at UMass Amherst and master’s degree in journalism at Medill Northwestern, while also tutoring unwed teenage mothers in Holyoke and young felons in Chicago. In 2008, Jim embedded with the Indiana National Guard and later, the 101st Airborne as a freelance conflict journalist in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the Arab Spring, he traveled to Libya and Syria to focus on the suffering and daily struggles of ordinary people amid civil war.

10 years later, Jim’s legacy lives on through the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation whose advocacy has produced a sea change in the priority the government places on bringing home American hostages. The federal structure established in 2015 has enabled the release of over 100 innocent American captives. The Foundation advocates alongside families whose loved ones are held captive, informs public discourse through its research, and engages on a nonpartisan basis with federal officials and Congress. 20 universities in the U.S. and 11 in Lebanon use the Foley Journalist Safety Curricula. The scourge of wrongful detention and kidnapping abroad continues. We must find ways as an international community to prevent this inhumane practice and restore safe international travel.

Jim aspired to moral courage. He once said, “For some reason I have physical courage, but that’s nothing compared to moral courage. If I don’t have the moral courage to challenge authority, to write about things that might have reprisals on my career, if I don’t have that moral courage, we don’t have journalism.” His example dares us to be people of moral courage who make our world safer for all.