He was a moving target this day, 26 years ago in Tiananmen Square.
I remember watching the video roll on the CBS Evening News that night and I figured Leroy must have had a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder, protecting him from being beaten or worse. It was an historic day and night of violence that would shake the world. He was a 6 foot 5 inch target in that sea of pro-democracy demonstrators. Death tolls ranged from several hundred to several thousands.
He was in the middle of it all, producing stories for CBS NEWS at the time. He was made to cover conflict, danger, and wars. It scared me to pieces. As the years would pass, I’d come to expect where ever the world was roiling, Leroy Sievers would be in the mix. So many stories, so many sleepless nights. I’d wait for the phone call. We’d have our typical conversation where I’d say “Come home soon.” He would always answer “I’m working on it.” I can’t count the conversations that ended with those words.
When I heard about the Tiananmen anniversary today I thought how I was sure, one day, I’d get a call from a network vice president, delivering bad news. Producers like Leroy always said they were given a stack of chips and with each conflict, a few of those chips would be knocked off the pile. The key was being smart enough to know when you were down to just one chip.
All those years of worry when he was so far away and in danger and he always came home: tired, a little worse for wear, but always in one piece.
And then came cancer.
There’s not a stack of chips tall enough in cancer world.