WASHINGTON, DC, October 8, 2014 — American journalist James Foley, who was publicly executed by ISIS in Syria on August 19, will receive (posthumously) 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, at the Fourth Annual Washington Oxi Day Foundation Gala on October 23, 2014 at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.
The Award is named after the one-word answer the Greek Prime Minister gave when Axis Forces requested surrender at 3:00 am on October 28, 1941 — “Oxi” (“No” in Greek). Hitler had just crushed 15 countries leaving Great Britain and Greece alone standing against Hitler. (Russia had a non-aggression treaty with Germany and America was still neutral). Yet heavily outnumbered Greece became the first country to defeat the Axis Forces moving President Franklin Roosevelt to say, “When the world had lost all hope, the Greek people dared to question the invincibility of the German monster…”
James Foley, the first American citizen killed by ISIS in response to American airstrikes in Iraq, showed the same David vs. Goliath courage against ISIS today that Greece showed against the Nazi forces in WWII. Foley, who served as a conflict journalist in Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya (where he was captured and held for 44 days by lethal extremists) and finally Syria, knew full well the danger into which he ventured. Yet, he proceeded because as he said, “I believe that front line journalism is important. Without these photos, videos and first hand experience you can’t really tell the world how bad it might be. These kinds of things are very important to me.” His extraordinary courage continued during his time as an ISIS hostage. A released fellow prisoner said of Foley, “He was an extraordinary person with a strong character. He never gave in to the pressure and violence of the kidnappers”.
This award will be presented at a full capacity black tie gala made up of high level US government officials, foreign dignitaries, national journalists and other opinion leaders and leaders of the national Greek-American community. Also present that evening will be John Foley’s brothers Michael and John (US Air Force) and their wives, sister Kathryn (US Navy) and other family members.
International musician and human rights activist Bono nominated and introduced 2013 Oxi Day Award winner John Githongo of Kenya, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen received the 2012 Oxi Day Award, and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi received the 2011 award for a female (the Battle of Crete Award).
In 2009, Foley became an embedded journalist with US troops in Iraq, where his brother was serving as an officer in the United States Air Force. In 2011 he was in Afghanistan where he wrote for military newspaper Stars and Stripes. He next went to Libya, embedding himself with rebel fighters, while working for the Boston-based GlobalPost. In Libya he was captured by Colonel Gaddafi’s regime and held for 44 days. In January of 2012, he began what would be many trips in and out of northern Syria as a freelance war correspondent during the Syrian Civil War. Jim was abducted in northern Syria on November 22, 2012 and held captive until his execution on August 19, 2014 . Jim was the oldest of five children and grew up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.