This One’s for Steve

Posted on Sep 5 2014 - 8:28pm by Ronnie


I’m sure you have all watched the news and know what happened to Steven Sotloff. The past few weeks have been heartbreaking for me, from the initial shock when I first saw him in that ISIS video to the moment the second video came out, ending his life in a gruesome, heartless way.

Steve and I met in college. We were a group of friends, all of us from abroad, who were studying in an international program together. Having no family close to us, we had pot-luck meals together, hung out, had get-togethers and had a good time keeping each other company. I remember those days fondly.

There was one thing that was clear beyond anything about Steve: he was fascinated by the Middle East, and more particularly with the Islamic world as a whole. He wanted to live it, see it, experience it and learn it. He was often going to dangerous regions. I always thought that he reveled in the idea of going to taboo areas and leaving unscathed. I remember telling my ex, who was closer to Steve than I was, that Steve would get himself killed one day. It’s unfortunate that I was right.

It was only last year when Steve met with my cousin. After having worked as a journalist in the Islamic world for many years, he said he was tired of it. He was tired of the death threats, the attacks, all the death and the murder he witnessed. He wanted to go back home and have a comfy office job, maybe as a sports journalist. Syria was his last assignment before dropping off the Middle East.

The last time I saw Steve was at our graduation ceremony. We sat together while we awaited our diploma, and in his usual sweet, goofy, funny way, he lit up the evening with his personality and energy.

I will remember Steve for all of this and more, but as a journalist, I choose to remember Steve for his dedication to being the voice of innocent victims of mostly ignored atrocities occurring in the Islamic world. He was the voice of millions of refugees in Syria. His journalistic pieces will remain alive.

Here’s to Steve!

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  • How tragic. Sorry you lost a friend. I like how you are choosing to remember him.

  • Debra

    I’m so so sorry…….there are no words for what happened.

  • Robin Rue

    I am sorry you lost a friend. I actually don’t know who he is, but then again – I don’t watch the news. Off to google it now.

    • Consider yourself lucky! You will be terrified when you see what is happening… genocide, hundreds of thousands killed in Syria – mostly civilians, complete chaos in the Middle East as former al-Qaeda branch ISIS establishes their own ‘country’ in Syria and Iraq, and in Islamic countries as well (Libya for example, where commercial airplanes are now possibly in the hands of radical Islamic groups), possible upcoming war, possible terrorist attacks in Europe and the US……

  • savoryexperiments

    I’m so sorry you lost such an influential person in your life. There are many horrid things happening in the world.

  • Sometimes it is easy to forget that those faces on the news are real people with real family & friends. I am glad that you are sharing something personal about him. It is so sad. Take solace in the fact that there is meaning to his death. He is bringing awareness to the very thing he was so passionate about. I know it’s not much comfort. There is really nothing that will ease the pain but time.

  • I have been trying to forget about this horrific incident and reading this again today isn’t it making it any easier. I’m so sorry for your friend and I hope you can find comfort knowing that he’s no longer suffering.

  • Amy Desrosiers

    So sorry for your loss! I did see this on the news and was horrified.

  • Pam W

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I heard about this on the news and was shocked by how horrible it was. 🙁

  • I am so sorry for your loss. I feel like as a world, we need to figure out how to make piece and accept our differences.

  • PamIW

    I have been following this story along with all of the other crazy stuff going on for the last several weeks ( well actually for much longer than that) and unfortunately I was not surprised when this happened. I have kept Steve and his family in my thoughts and prayers but also all of the innocent people in Syria and Iraq and the surrounding countries in the Middle East. What a horrific situation and one that needs to be dealt with soon.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  • Julie / @Flip_4

    I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. It’s horrible that things like this happen, I just don’t understand why.

  • It has been huge news here in the US of course, but also in FL. They said he was a graduate of UCF which is where I went to college. This is a sad story but it is a blessing that you were able to know such an intelligent individual.

  • Ann Bacciaglia

    I am sorry for your loss. It is impossible to understand such a terrible thing.

  • Wow. It really becomes real in this scenario. Rip

  • TouristMeetsTraveler

    I can’t believe that they’d do something like this to a human being, it’s sickening.

  • Melissa Vera

    I was sickened to hear about what happened. He sounds like such a nice guy. Cherish your memories of hiim.

  • Amber Nelson

    So sorry to hear about this. Such a hard thing to understand.

  • Jayne

    🙁 I’m so sorry Ronnie. I only just came across this post. It’s horrible knowing that this happened to someone you were once close with and remember fondly. His memory & story lives on.