Friday, May 06, 2011

Foreign Affairs Day

Today is Foreign Affairs Day, and AFSA held their annual Memorial Plaque ceremony. This ceremony honors those who have died while in the service of the country in the Diplomatic Corps. I hope you will take a moment today to remember them and their families.

The AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony
Foreign Affairs Day, May 6

The AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony, which honors Foreign Service personnel who have lost their lives while serving their country in the line of duty or under other inspirational circumstances, will be held on Foreign Affairs Day, Friday, May 6 at 10:25 am, in the C St. lobby of the State Department in front of the west plaque. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regrets she will not be able to preside due to last minute conflicts. We are pleased that Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is scheduled to preside over the ceremony.

AFSA President Susan R. Johnson will open the ceremony with a brief welcome and will present a message from President Barack Obama and Deputy Secretary Steinberg will make remarks in memory of the honoree, Eugene F. Sullivan, bringing the total Foreign Service personnel inscribed on the plaque to 235. Our deepest sympathies and heartfelt gratitude go out to the family and loved ones of Mr. Sullivan. He died of black water fever in Ethiopia in 1972. He was a Foreign Service Officer in USAID and a father of seven.

The solemn ceremony offers an opportunity to remember and honor our fallen colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and reminds all Americans of the extremely dangerous and difficult conditions that the Foreign Service faces today in many parts of the world. Sadly, as we pay tribute to and formally honor Eugene Sullivan, today, nearly forty years later, AFSA also remembers another member of the Foreign Service family, Sharon Clark. She died of cerebral malaria on December 26, 2010, while serving in Abuja, Nigeria - a sad reminder than the dangerous diseases remain one of the many risks Foreign Service personnel face as part of their work. Also, this occasion allows the Foreign Service family to come together in honor of our profession and the importance of diplomacy and development as instruments of our national power and our country’s desire for prosperity and peace.

Following the conclusion of Foreign Affairs Day at 3:00 pm, you are warmly invited to attend AFSA's Foreign Affairs Day Reception, from 3-5 pm at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served at no cost. At 4 pm the 2011 AFSA Scholarship winners will be announced. You are welcome to come and go as you please.

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