It's always a wrench when one of your own dies in the line of duty.

The State Department announced Wednesday that journalist James Foley was beheaded in Syria by Islamic militants. According to reports, the organization - known as the Islamic State - informed the world that Foley's execution was a revenge killing for U.S. air strikes against militants in Iraq.

I'm not going to go into how reprehensible I find Foley's death. In my opinion, President Obama and other Western world leaders have expressed the matter much more succinctly. Instead, I'm going to talk about the risks many journalists must take in their attempts at getting the story.

Ours is often not an easy profession. Although our lives are usually not at as great a risk as those in the military or law enforcement, there's still a distinct element of danger many of us face that sometimes results in the death of one of our own.

James Foley was one such person. A freelance journalist, Foley entered into a war zone in an attempt to gather information for stories about the fighting that has been occurring between Islamic militants and other, more established forces throughout the region. Unfortunately, Foley was captured by representatives of the Islamic State, and they decided to make an example of him.

Sadly, Foley's fate is as old as journalism itself. Throughout the history of newspapers and other media there have always been journalists who become victims of oppressors who believe that by killing the messenger, they will be able to stifle the truth. But ironically, no matter how many times the tyrants and oppressors throughout the world try this, by their actions they always end up bringing the truth to light instead of hiding it.

Had Foley's captors merely kept him as a prisoner, the eyes of the world probably would not have turned so keenly toward the Islamic State and its actions. Although the U.S. and other Western powers have been critical of what has been going on throughout the Middle East, their criticism of what has been occurring - mainly due to Foley's recent execution - has now been brought into a much sharper focus, and a ground support for further action has been growing.

By attempting to find the truth about the situation in the war zone and report on it, Foley was attempting to provide an invaluable service for the world. The best way to honor Foley for his ultimate sacrifice is to be certain that those who caused his death will gain nothing from their actions; and instead be required to pay for this as well as their other crimes against humanity.

C.J. Marshall is a writer and columnist for The Daily Review. He can be reached at (570) 265-1630; or