What Luke Somers Was Doing in the Arab World

Somers lost his life helping those he loved.

That revelation alone is an unfortunate reminder of our small, but violent world.

Somers, 33, was making a life there. He was well liked by friends and lived in a relatively safe area of the Capitol of Yemen, Sanaa.

I understand why Somers was there. I know it sounds irresponsible from the safety of an armchair back "state-side," but there are hundreds of Americans like Somers. I've met several. The reasons they feel compelled to give up a comfortable life are many but most have a passion for the people and the culture.

There's a wonderful sense of hospitality in the Arab world. If you have the right intentions and show respect you are met with kindness and admiration. Somers had that.

It's seductive, rewarding and, yes, dangerous. I've spent much of the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. ABC News has a very strict security procedure and as I moved from one place to another, often under guard, I'd cross paths with my fellow citizens -- out on their own in a very uncertain world.

My first reaction was, "well, that's crazy," but over time I learned to admire those with such powerful conviction. They are emissaries to a part of the world that knows little about Americans and what they do know is often built upon lies and misunderstanding. It's people like Somers who make a difference, one friend at a time.

Many of those same soldiers, sailors and Marines have worked hard in the past few years to "secure the population" and get close to the locals who cannot escape the violence. It's a key part to the American counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in the region. The goal is to help and offer a way that does not always lead to violent conflict. Soldiers risk their lives to help strangers.

Somers has been described as a journalist and translator. To those who knew him in Yemen he was much more.

Somers lost his life helping those he loved.