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Paul Douglas & James Brolan
29th November 1957 & 7th April 1965 - 29th May 2006
On Thursday, 6th October, 2016, at 6:30pm a service in celebration of the lives of Paul Douglas & James Brolan was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.
The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the bidding:-
We are here this evening to honour the memory and to give thanks for the lives of Paul Douglas and James Brolan, tragically killed in Iraq ten years ago in May.
As we celebrate their lives today, we remember not only two men who were outstanding in their professional field, and whose courage, dedication and humanity exemplified all that is best in news broadcasting; but we remember also two outstanding human beings; men who lived life to the full; who were devoted to their families; and who were loved, as well as respected, by their colleagues and their friends.
The quality of their lives, and the manner of their deaths remind us all that the best kind of news reporting can come with the heaviest of price tags. Those of us who benefit from the courage and commitment of men such as Paul and James, do well to remember that.
In our prayers later in this service, we shall remember also Captain James 'Alex' Funkhauser, and Sam, the Iraqi translator, who were killed with Paul and James; as well as those who were injured alongside them; and we honour their memory too.
On the 29th of May 2006 it seemed that time stood still, that moment changed everything and I didn't know how we were going to carry on. I didn't know how the world would work without my dad let alone how my mum was going to get out of bed.
I panicked. How would Charlie, Georgia and Kai be able to remember their amazing granddad, would I forget what his booming voice sounded like? And would I ever be able to see past the tears and heartbreak and ever remember his smile which made everything okay?
How would Kelly carry on being Kelly as she was always the daddy's girl, staying out of the way of the craziness of me and my mum.
On that day we needed to stay strong as a family as dad always taught us. Lives needed to be rebuilt but firstly, along with Geri, Sam, Agatha and David, and with the strong support of both Andy Clarke and Andy Stevenson, we needed to bring dad and James home.
Halfway across the world. Jennifer Funkhauser had to face telling Caitlin & Allison that their daddy wasn't coming home and she also had to stay strong and keep her family going.
Cory who was faced with the devastation on that day and who stayed holding my dad, ensuring he wasn't alone during his last moments, needed to continue his tour of duty until he was able to go home to his wife sally.
And Kimberly started the long road to recovery.
The thing is, looking back on the past ten years, time hasn't been standing still.
Jennifer and the girls are a strong , happy family with Brandon.
Cory and his wife sally have four beautiful children.
Sam Brolan has a wonderful wife and is now a proud daddy and Agatha has finished studies at St Andrews.
And Kimberly has made a remarkable recovery.
Our Charlie has started her adventures studying drama at University, Georgia and Kai are doing really well at school.
Mum is smiling and has a wonderful life with Mukthair and Kelly is still my amazing sister who has bagged herself a lovely fella, Paul.
And I can remember that booming voice and that huge smile which still makes everything okay.
When devastating events happen, people always use the term "time is a good healer" and i always thought "well how could it possible heal this" but you know what? It does memories are here forever...
It is often said that life is not measured by the number of breaths a man takes, but by the moments that take his breath away. If that is true, then my father lived an absolutely immeasurable life. From embeds in Afghanistan to playing guitar on a rooftop in Baghdad, from seeing penguins in the Falkland Islands to reaching Everest Base Camp on a training diet of Rothman’s cigarettes and tea, he lived his life a thousand times over. I was once asked if I could have imagined my dad growing old in a nursing home. I answered that, honestly, I really couldn’t. He wasn’t the kind of guy that would fade away or ever stop doing what he loved.
I’m regularly told that my dad made the worst places on Earth more bearable with his humour and personality. That is why it is so painful that he hasn’t been here to help us through the last 10 years. I was only 12 when he died, but I quickly became aware that the world had lost a man who was so much more than just my and Sam’s dad. It was fascinating for me to get to know the man who worked in war zones, helped people through hard days and always offered a joke, no matter how inappropriate. It was certainly nice to hear that his monkey walk, something that made me cringe so much, had found an eager audience somewhere in the world – because it definitely had not with me.
If sharing tales of those we have lost is how we keep from really losing them, then I think I can confidently say that my dad isn’t going anywhere. I’m sure there are so many James Brolan stories flying through everyone’s heads right now but I’d just like to share one of my favourites.
I remember when he returned from a trip abroad around Christmas time and I begged him to take me to the grotto at Harrods. Now, I’m sure a lot of you remember that my dad had a perpetually bad back. We waited in this line, with my mother, for hours and my dad got tired of standing up. So he crouched down and leaned his back against the wall. Only, it wasn’t a wall. It was a set of disguised double doors that were part of the set. The doors flew open and my dad fell backwards and into a very unglamorous and un-festive storage room. I was absolutely mortified, a feeling that was intensified when he stood up and loudly swore that he was clearly bigger than the average elf and his back still hurt.
As much as my dad loved his job, we, his family, always came first. No matter what he witnessed when he worked, he left all of that at the door. As soon as he entered our house, the only things that he brought home to Sam, my mother and me were gifts from duty free, fake watches, pashminas and tales of a new high scoring word in Scrabble.
I was going through a cupboard of my dad’s things and found a Porta Brace bag that I assumed contained sound equipment but when I opened it, it was actually his travel Scrabble kit. That was just the kind of guy he was; professional but ultimately, steadfastly committed to having fun.
So, the George Clooney lookalike, Scrabble champion and monkey impersonator, there is not enough that I could say that would do justice to the greatness of James Brolan. He brought colour, laughter and light to everyone he knew and the world is a darker, less funny, and more sombre place without him.
Mark Phillips, Senior Foreign Correspondent, CBS News
PAUL AND JAMES PLUS TEN
Ten years. If -- to coin a phrase -- a week is a long time in politics, what is ten years in the news business? As far as Paul and James are concerned, ten years seems like no time at all.
Judging from our conversations, everybody’s approach to this commemoration seems to be similar. Has it really been ten years? It seems like yesterday, or last week. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard.
The shock was so deep -- and the loss so great -- that no amount of time can really diminish it.
Maybe that's also because so little has changed. Not on a personal level -- of course. The change to James' and Paul's families has been more profound and more lasting than any of the rest of us can imagine. And our sympathy for their loss hasn't diminished either.
For the great and raucous – never-a-dull-moment -- Douglas clan... for Linda, Kelly, Jo, Charlie, Georgia and Kai... it's a testament to their strength of character that they have carried on so bravely beyond the loss of that all-embracing, ever-smiling force of nature that was Paul. And we’ve heard from Jo today about how well they’ve done.
For Sam – now with a family of his own -- and for Agatha – with her new graduate degree… their lives after the loss of James and then -- also tragically and, more recently, Geri, have been -- inspirational.
But in other ways, for the past ten years it does almost seem as though time has stopped. If we look at the world Paul and James left -- and look around now -- there's very little The Boys -- as we call them -- wouldn't find sadly familiar. The same tragedies are still going on in the same places. New tragedies -- some of them even worse than the old -- have been added.
And well-meaning, courageous people like James and Paul are still doing what they were doing -- going to those wretched places to show the world what is happening there. And doing so in an environment where the local actors are increasingly, even lethally, hostile. And also doing so to a world that often seems indifferent, fatigued, unable, or -- worst of all -- unwilling to do anything about it. All of which makes what Paul and James were doing on that day in Baghdad even more important.
The Boys weren't engaged an anything they would have described as heroic or noble. They would have said they were just doing their job. Their tragedy also lies in its simplicity. What happened to them could have happened to a lot of people in this room, which has, let's be honest, added to our sense of connection to what seems like such a random and senseless loss.
And so -- after all this time -- we're still looking for some meaning in James and Paul's ridiculous deaths. I think there is some. The job they were doing was more than just a job. That isn't to say they thought of it as a calling - or a vocation. Neither of them was from the bullets-whizzed-around-me, conflict-junky school of journalism.
They were solid, work-a-day hacks... good ones... and proud of it. They thought themselves fortunate to earn a living in a line of work that is often interesting, or adventurous, or amusing, or even occasionally fulfilling.
They were part of a team hammering away at a story that a lot of people would rather wasn't the being hammered away at quite so much. Another day in Baghdad. If they hadn't been killed by that bomb, would it have received more than a passing reference as another grim statistic in that day's news?
Their loss, though, was not some sort of perverse sacrifice. Death on the alter of news. Hardly. It was simply -- and this is the worst part of trying to come to terms with it -- it was simply bad luck. Although not being in Baghdad would have reduced the risk considerably.
But they were there, which is the point. The important thing about what the boys were doing -- is simply that they were doing it. The nobility of their loss is in the very mundanity of their work. Somebody needed to be there and it was their shift.
But that, finally, raises another important question ... how to honour their memory. Holding services like this is a way. Putting their pictures up in the bureau, right across from the tea kettle is a fine idea. They'd like that. Having their photographs beside the anchor desk on the set of the Evening News is also a fine gesture and a reminder, perhaps, that there's a nasty world out there beyond the east river and that good people take risks covering it.
But the best way to honour Paul and James may simply be to keep on doing what they were doing. It's probably too much to hope that the telling of the stories of forsaken people in tragic places will lessen the likelihood of those tragedies continuing -- or of new ones happening. That would be delusional.
But to stop trying to tell those stories would be to dishonour Paul and James... to devalue what they did and why they did it. And it would cheapen the memory of the great guys they were.
Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, SVP, CBS News read Isaiah 21: 6-10
6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:
8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:
9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.
Tina Carr, Director, Rory Peck Trust read Remember by Christina Rossetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - Trad. arr. Jones
The Lord Is My Shepherd - Goodall
Hello - Adele/Kurstin arr. Jones
Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
CBS News (video)