Fifty-nine journalists who lost their lives last year in the pursuit of news have been honored by the Freedom Forum in Arlington, Virginia. Their names were added to a tall, spiraling memorial that bears the names of more than 16-hundred reporters killed around the world since 1812.
At a suburban Washington park, under somber skies, the names of the reporters and where they died were read.
EMCEE: "In Lebanon: Samir Qassir; Gebran Tueni; in Libya: Daif Al-Gahzal Al-Shuhaibi; In Mexico: Dolores Guadalupe Garcia Escamilla; Raul Gibb Guerrero; in Nepal: Maheshwar Pahari; in Pakistan: Allah Noor; Amir Nowab."
Of the 59 journalists killed in 2005, 23 of them died in Iraq. Peter Pritchard, the President of the Newseum, which is affiliated with the Freedom Forum, said six more journalists have been killed this year in that conflict.
"A total of 74 journalists have died in Iraq in the past three and a quarter years," he said. "In all of World War II, 69 died, and in the 20-year conflict in Vietnam and Cambodia 63 were lost. So that makes Iraq the most dangerous conflict in history for journalists."
Among the 23 reporters killed last year in Iraq was Steven Vincent, 49, a freelancer from New York. His body was found in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the day after he was kidnapped. His widow, Lisa, was at the Freedom Forum ceremony and spoke to VOA about her husband's legacy.
"I would like Steven to be remembered as a truly brave and courageous man, who knew the risks he was running," she said. "He knew he was in danger, but he persevered nonetheless. He really thought that what he was doing was more important than giving in to the terrorists. He did what he had to do; he lost his life as a result; and for that he will forever be my hero."
In addition to Iraq, journalists lost their lives in 20 other countries last year. Many of those reporters were targeted for their investigations of crime and corruption.
The president of the American news network ABC, David Westin, says although the reporters who were killed came from different backgrounds and covered a variety of stories, they all had one thing in common.
"All of them died because they were seeking truth on behalf of all of us," said Mr. Westin.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, says many more reporters around the world are harassed, beaten and arrested. In a new report, the media watchdog group found that repressive governments often let attacks on journalists go unpunished, and about 95 percent of journalist murders are not solved.