The Beginning of the War

August 11,  2004  7:30 a.m.

The best patisserie in Paris, I was told, was a place called "La Duree." It was my birthday, September 10, 2001, and I began with a hot chocolate.

"I would like a lot of cakes," I told the server. I tried to remember the word for "nuts."

"With no nuts. I'm going to eat a lot. Just keep bringing it, all different things. I like chocolate. I like cake."

The waitress did not really get it. She brought cakes, cookies and strangely colored items on small plates, but it didn't do it. The next morning I flew back to my apartment in Russia.

When I landed at Sheremetyevo Airport, I saw the V.I.P. woman holding up a sign behind the plexiglass at the head of a huge line.

I cut to the front of the line and spoke to the V.I.P. woman through the plastic wall. A visa line in Russia could last an hour. If you paid the V.I.P. woman, she'd hold up a sign and you could cut to the front of the line. I used to be embarrassed about cutting in line. In the past, even when I saw the V.I.P. woman holding the sign, I waited anonymously at the back as she waved frantically across the plexiglass divide.

"Did you hear what happened?" the V.I.P. woman asked.

This was a terrible question for a reporter just off a plane. Had Yeltsin died? Had Putin died?

"You don't know what happened?" she asked again.

A plane had crashed in New York.

"Oh," I thought. Big deal. A plane crash. It would be a big story for six hours.

Yury the driver was waiting with the Volvo. He was excited. A plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. Deliberately. Hijackers crashed it. Fifty-thousand people were dead, we thought at the time. Fifty-thousand. We listened to the radio. It was getting dark already. Fifty-thousand. The story wouldn't affect Russia. The story would be there, in the States. Maybe a reaction from Russia, I thought. Nothing more...

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E-mail Steve your questions.

Steve, I appreciate your blog.  Today our 19-y/o is flying to Iraq to serve his first mission as a Marine. I am determined to see the glass as half full when I hear of news on the war on terror  in Iraq and anywhere.  It is difficult because each day I hear so much of the negative, which, I find out later, isn’t always negative, and this makes it unfair and unbalanced!  When I hear something of the positive, I say, why didn’t we hear THAT 50 times like we heard the BAD, negative story 50 times!!  When the positive IS there, I am determined to see it!  Thank you for your part in getting it out to us.

— Jeannie, a mom


Your blog brought back some not-so-fond memories of nighttime raids on a Navy destroyer against North Viet Nam.  It was scary then, too, because the North Vietnamese shot back.  Big time.  And they were good, too.  Their shells hit within 25 ft. of the ship.  Fortunately they were going for direct hits and didn't try for air bursts near the ship. That would have been fatal for us exposed on the bridge. 
But being inside a tin can in the dark with people shooting at you is no fun.  It's exhilerating, but no fun, and I remembered it well as I read your blog. Thanks.  I think.
— Glen (Belton, TX)


Dear Steve,

I love reading your stories and hearing your reports on FOX. You are a terrific reporter! I know it can't always be easy, but just know that there are lots of us waiting to read your blogs and hear your reports. Thanks a lot for all of your hard work!

— Dee

Dear Steve, 

I just read your recent "blog" and my heartbeat accelerated. I swear I felt your anxiety!  My husband returned from Iraq in September, having spent 6 months with 1MEF.  I spent many nights awake, watching FOX , simultaneously laughing and crying as I realized that Ollie was actually enjoying himself and the FOX embedded reporters were getting a taste of what it means to be a Marine, adrenaline producing, good and bad. Thank you for your service to our country.  May the American people continue to  treasure truth in journalism. 

Sincerely,  Julia


All I can say is WOW.  The military deserve much more respect than they get.  It is very hard for people back in the United States to understand what is really going on over there and you do a great job of trying to relay circumstances to us.  Please tell the military that we respect their service, and pray for their safe return.

Keep up the good work and your head down.

— Cathy (Beaver, PA)

Dear Steve,
My husband and I watch FOX News all the time, so I see you and the other FOX reporters in Iraq, (and other dangerous countries) so far away from home, being so brave.  And I think, how can they sound so calm when reporting to us your daily news reports? 
Sometimes I get so frustrated when you give your report, then the anchors just say, "Thank's Steve," almost like you are reporting from next door, and so matter of fact. Good luck in your Arabic language lessons, and may God continue to keep you and our soldiers safe. We have several of our good friends' sons in Iraq now.
Thanks again for your bravery,

Steve..  I check daily for your next Blog. I feel humbled by your experiences...especially, Rwanda. I'm glad you are learning Arabic (sounds like it will come in useful!)  Even before you started your Blogs, I worried for you.. and looked forward to your next report. I sure wish you would smile a bit more or even laugh... but then, after reading your accounts, I understand why. Take care of yourself and know that what you are doing in life really matters!

— Teresa (Gainesville, VA)


As a Vietnam Veteran, I know how frightening combat can be. But at least in the Army I could shoot back. As a reporter, you can't even do that. You have to just gut up and do your job. For that you have earned my utmost respect. Jim from Virginia told you to keep your head down. May I suggest that you keep the other end down as well?

For you, one loud AIRBORNE!

Jim (Winston-Salem, NC)


Thank you for your insightfulness.  I can only imagine the fear you must have felt.  Feeling trapped as the heat radiated  and wondering if the next round of fire is going to be the last you ever hear.  I admire you for your ability to suppress the panic, not show your vulnerability and allowing the unit to complete it's mission. Personally, I wouldn't have needed to go outside the Bradley, I would have urinated all over myself. You must have wanted to scream! 

— Todd (Tustin, California)

Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.