While reporting on the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 for the Washington Post, Jackie Spinner found herself sitting at a table with Anne Garrels, a Foreign Correspondent for NPR. For Spinner, Fallujah was an initiation to war, and Garrels an experienced reporter whom she admired. As they sat, Garrels slid Spinner a sheet of paper. Written was the name of Garrels' husband and his phone number. Spinner looked at the slip and realized that Garrels, a veteran of many conflicts, was afraid that she might die during the battle. The moment was a revelation for Spinner, for whom the fear of war had already begun to fade. Both survived the following days, but Spinner carried that slip of paper with her for some time after, using it as a reminder of a rule she found to be increasingly apt as time passed: stay scared.

Yes, on a patrol with the Marines. That’s war. But sitting down to celebrate a feast for Zacharias with an Iraqi family, that’s war. And going to the market to try to find basil, that’s war. Trying not to die, that’s war. But just living. That’s also war. I think we have this very Hollywood notion of what war is. It’s not that.
— Jackie Spinner

Spinner spent years reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Washington Post. She is the survivor of an attempted kidnapping, various conflict zones and stateside PTSD. After the death of her friend and fellow war reporter Chris Hondros in 2011, Spinner decided it was time to pursue what she wanted above all else: to be a mother. Within a month of Hondros' death, Spinner was in Morocco beginning the process of adopting her first son, essentially ending her tenure as a foreign correspondent.

With the help of her twin sister, Spinner wrote an account of her time during the War in Iraq called "Tell Them I Didn't Cry." She is currently an Associate Professor of Journalism at Columbia College in Chicago and acts as the Chicago correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review. Spinner - who herself was adopted along with her twin sister - later adopted a second son from Morocco. She has written about motherhood for the Washington Post.