Michael Kelly

On the anniversary of a great loss


Ten years ago today Michael Kelly, then the editor of the Atlantic, was killed while serving as an embedded reporter with the Third Infantry Division during the early stages of the invasion of Iraq. 

He and I disagreed about many things, notably including the war in Iraq, of which he was a passionate supporter. His advocacy of that war was based on what he had seen Saddam Hussein do in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, which Michael chronicled in his book Martyrs' Day. As all the elegies and commemorations noted after his death, Michael was a powerful, very talented, enormously big-hearted figure, whose death in Iraq was an almost unimaginable tragedy. He was a wonderful editor of this magazine. Like everyone at the Atlantic and many other people in journalism, I remember exactly where I was -- in my case, on an Amtrak train back from New York to Washington, the morning after I'd done some anti-war TV program -- at the moment I heard this news.

I don't have the heart to include this among the "Ten Years After" reckonings of the decision to go to war in Iraq. His colleagues -- and readers -- reflect on what they lost, the loss being greatest for his wife and sons.