In a setting far different from her usual surroundings, Colvin used her remarks to do what she did best, describing the conditions that real people face in war-torn locations:
Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children.She also shared this personal recollection that feels so chilling in retrospect. The "embed" she refers to is when journalists are "embedded" with an armed forces unit to cover the war:
Just last week, I had a coffee in Afghanistan with a photographer friend, Joao Silva. We talked about the terror one feels and must contain when patrolling on an embed with the armed forces through fields and villages in Afghanistan...putting one foot in front of the other, steeling yourself each step for the blast. The expectation of that blast is the stuff of nightmares. Two days after our meeting Joao stepped on a mine and lost both legs at the knee.Such a blast killed Colvin in February, and in her obituaries, the photos were primarily of her speaking at this event. What can you learn from this famous speech?
- Describe horror simply: Horrific circumstances don't need over-the-top adjectives to be powerful. Instead, stick to concrete nouns and verbs to convey what's happening. Let the horror stand on its own without too much embellishment.
- Know your history: In this speech, Colvin harkens back to the first British war correspondent and quickly sketches his circumstances, then describes those she faced in the modern day...but noting the long-standing similarities. The quick history lesson makes clear that the fallen journalists being honored are part of a long tradition.
- Explain what normal means: Describing a war zone is not unlike describing the surface of another planet--it's foreign to most of your listeners. Sharing simple, everyday descriptions will help your audience relate to and feel a connection with the strange landscape you're describing.
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