From Secretary Kerry:
"Colleagues: I don’t think any of us will ever forget where we were or what we were doing on April 6th when we learned that Anne Smedinghoff had been killed in Afghanistan. It was my most difficult day as Secretary, and the weight of knowing that three U.S. service members were also killed, and several other Mission Afghanistan colleagues injured, was something all of us felt quite profoundly and, frankly, we all still feel it today. We feel it especially this week as we gather to add new names to the Memorial Wall here at State.
One of the things, though, that has made me most proud of everyone who makes up our incredible State Department and USAID family, is the way in which we pull together when tragedy strikes. I’ve seen and felt it in the way people volunteered to help Anne’s family during the worst time any parent could ever imagine, in the many memorial efforts to honor her at Embassy Kabul, or in the quiet acts of keeping faith that so many of you took part in these last weeks, leaving flowers and cards and personal notes remembering Anne downstairs near the place on the wall which will bear her name. For so many, there’s been a “there but for the grace of God go I” sentiment in how everyone saw in Anne’s idealism and her courage just a little bit of who we’d all like to be, and more than a little bit of a reminder that in this dangerous world that calls on foreign service professionals, the risks are always with us.
As all of you know, I met Anne in Kabul, and I was touched by her spirit, her work ethic, and her idealism. That’s what we need to celebrate this week. We all grieve in our own ways. But one of the things I’ve learned as someone who lost close friends at a young age in a war, and in many years as a Senator when I met with many families of the fallen from Massachusetts, is that even as we struggle to wrestle with their deaths, and to make sense of questions that only God can answer, that we need to celebrate their lives and their examples. Only we the living can help honor the qualities and the energy that people like Anne shared with us, and that’s important – in fact, perhaps most when someone is taken from us far too young, it matters that we remember the good times of young lives lived with great energy.
What I hope we can do this week is celebrate Anne’s life together. ....I ask you to help remember Anne by joining me and Anne’s family – Tom, Mary Beth, Mark, Regina, and Joan – at a memorial service that will celebrate her and honor her ideals."
The ceremony will be closed to the press at her family’s request, but if you are part of the State Department community, you can watch it via BNET at bnet.state.gov/meetings.asx or later on BNET’s Video-on-Demand archive.