Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Losing A Friend

I have written here many times about the dangers of Foreign Service work. About how we are risking our lives to serve the country.

Many people scoff at that notion. They think being a diplomat is about going to fancy parties. Pin-striped cookie pushers they call us.

Today, my heart hurts. Today, we lost four Americans serving our country. Among them, my friend Ambassador Chris Stevens.

I served with Chris in Jerusalem. He was our political chief and then our Deputy Principal Officer. He was a great diplomat and a great guy.

And he was a true friend to the people who killed him.

I can't really write much more about it right now, so I am going to leave you with the thoughts from some friends and with the video to introduce Chris as the new Ambassador to Libya. Because as one friend said, I want you to remember him as he was.

From Laura Smiley:

"I don't pontificate very often (*cough* - well, I guess I do), but as well as soluting our military and fire/police departments, we should recognize that there are those who choose to serve on the front lines, trying to engage directly with the people in other countries on a daily basis. These foreign service personnel do not carry weapons. They (usually) do not wear bullet-proof vests. They are often found in the epicenters of poverty and anti-American sentiment, quietly bringing the basic building blocks of civilization (education, clean water, medicine, electricity), or building upon those blocks (women's education, sustainable agriculture, democracy, civil society). They proudly represent the values and ideals of our great country abroad, and are true patriots.

"Smart, courageous, and much too self-deprecating (or at least not self-promoting as much as their credentials would certainly allow), I love serving along side of these selfless men and women!

"I ask you to spend a moment reflecting on their service, as well as their sacrifices."

And this from my A-100 classmate Tim Davis:

The Foreign Service is a mystery to most Americans. If you're reading this and not in the Foreign Service I may be your only link toAmerica's diplomats. Today, two of our missions were attacked and it's likely one of my colleagues was killed.

It's true that diplomats go to fancy receptions and meet interesting people, but it's also true that they go to the sorts of places the State Department tells you not to go; war zones with large military presences like Afghanistan and until last December Iraq. They also volunteer, however, to go to countries largely without the military,like Egypt and Libya, where today's attacks happened. And they don't just go. They raise the flag. Their sole job is to say, "I am an American and this is what we stand for.". It is a brave thing to do in places where anti-American sentiment is often palpable. It has a cost.

As someone trained in the Marine Corps it makes sense that I wouldvolunteer to go to these places. That's not particularly brave. Most of your fellow Americans in the Foreign Service who go to these places and risk their lives do so without the security of having been a Marine, but with faith in our country and the desire to do their part in projecting America's innate goodness to the world.

We are, as a nation, blessed with troops who are more courageous and more just than any the world has seen. We are equally blessed with diplomats, like my colleague today, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of America and its promise.

1 comment:

Gabriel said...

Very sorry for your loss. It was a sad day indeed.