Martin Fletcher: The Ones We Can’t Forget

Martin Fletcher’s career in journalism has led him across the world, and on Oct. 18, it brought him to Sacred Heart University to speak about his book, “Teachers: The Ones We Can’t Forget,” and to recall his life as a reporter.

His decades of work have taken him across the world, mostly covering war zones. Starting out as a writer for the BBC, Fletcher realized his true aspirations were to travel.

“I wanted to see the world, not just sit at a desk writing news like, ‘And now, the weather.’ Someone has to write that, and it was me,” Fletcher said. Against his parents’ wishes, he took a job at NBC as a cameraman.

Fletcher was able to travel and connect with many people across the world, often interacting with people at some of the worst times in their lives. This was brought on by war, famine, drought, or likely a combination of all of the above.

“I mean, you often find that famine is accompanied by war, and one of the reasons is because the people fighting the war steal the food from the people to feed the soldiers. This cycle of insanity is something that stays with me,” said Fletcher.

In his newest book, “Teachers: The Ones We Can’t Forget,” Fletcher details the stories behind 11 images that begin each chapter.

“I wanted to create images that the audience could respond to, almost like a painting. I wanted to provoke an emotion in the viewer,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher’s goal while reporting is often to create moments of emotions by finding individuals whose stories were indicative of a bigger picture.
In one story in “Teachers: The Ones We Can’t Forget,” Fletcher remembers Raha, a suicide bomber from Gaza who was caught before her destination. Once, she was caught at the border and tried to pull the detonator, but it didn’t work. Fletcher notes that he didn’t get the chance to speak with her but saw her detained.

Because he was unable to speak with her, Fletcher found Raha’s parents and community to piece together why she became involved with terror organizations.

“She lived in Gaza and had a terrific fire in her kitchen; she was disfigured, her fiancé left her. She thought she had nothing left to live for, and then was manipulated by one of the terrorist groups in Gaza, who turned her into a suicide bomber,” Fletcher said.

This is just one of many unimaginable stories Fletcher writes about in his book. His journalistic approach is guided by what he calls “the essence of the story.”

When reporting, he asks himself what the story is really about. “And then, I try to find someone whose story reflects that; tiny story tells big story,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher finds that a lot of his experiences have taught him a lot about the world and can help teach others as well.

“The people that helped me, the people that interested me,” Fletcher corrected himself, “were the people I met in these terrible situations, people who had lost loved ones in bombings or wars. And I always noticed how they were always able to carry on.” Fletcher consistently used that term, ‘carry on,’ to describe the tenacity of those he’s met, especially those in the worst situations.

“You’ve got to carry on, take that next step. And the fact that people can do that, and how they do it, and do it,” said Fletcher. “The greatest lesson I’ve learned as a journalist [is] the strength people have to carry on regardless.”

About the author

Staff Writer

Leave a Reply