Monday, April 8, 2013

More Loss

Please take a moment to read Secretary Kerry's words regarding the loss of a fellow Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff in Kabul, Afghanistan:

"Yesterday, we lost a very bright and brave young woman, a young diplomat. We lost her to a horrific attack in Afghanistan. And today, our hearts are broken. Anne Smedinghoff was 25 years old, Mr. Foreign Minister, and I think that in this tragedy, there is a stark contrast for all of the world to see between two very different sets of values.
On the one hand, you have Anne, a selfless, idealistic young woman who woke up yesterday morning and set out to bring textbooks to schoolchildren, to bring them knowledge, children she had never met, to help them to be able to build a future. And Anne and those with her were attacked by Taliban terrorists who woke up that day not with a mission to educate or to help, but with a mission to destroy. A brave American was determined to brighten the light of learning through books written in the native tongue of the students that she had never met, but whom she felt compelled to help. And she was met by cowardly terrorists determined to bring darkness and death to total strangers.

These are the challenges that our citizens face, not just in Afghanistan but in many dangerous parts of the world, where a nihilism, an empty approach, is willing to take life rather than give it. What did that terrorist accomplish? What did his cowardice and his nihilism buy him? The grief of parents who now have to bury their children. It also brought the strengthened resolve of a nation, a diplomatic corps, a military, all resources determined to continue the hard work of helping people to help themselves.

So yesterday, we saw the vilest form of terrorism, but as I hope the world will have learned by now, and if it hasn’t, it will over time, America does not and will not cower before terrorism. We are going to forge on, we’re going to step up, we’re going to continue to do the work that we do to try to improve the lives of other people. We put ourselves in harm’s way because we believe in bringing hope to our brothers and sisters all over the world, knowing that we share universal human values with people all over the world of dignity, of opportunity, of progress.

So it is now up to us to determine what the legacy of this tragedy will be. And where others seek to destroy, we intend to show a stronger determination in order to brighten our shared future, even when others try to darken it with violence. That was Anne’s mission when she woke up yesterday morning, and it will be ours every single day from this morning through the next as long as God gives us the ability to make that choice.

So I want to emphasize that Anne was everything that is right about our Foreign Service. She was smart and capable, committed to our country. I had the privilege of meeting her, Mr. Foreign Minister, just a few days ago. When I was in Afghanistan, she was part of my team. And she was someone who worked hard and put her life on the line so that others could live a better life. Our hearts go out to Anne’s mother and father, with whom I spoke yesterday, and to the two sisters and the brother who survive her, to her friends and colleagues at home in Chicago, in Caracas where she served her first tour of duty in the Foreign Service, and in Kabul as well as around the world. And we also express our sadness and our condolences to every member of the United States Department of State with whom I am today privileged to work and call colleagues."

This has been excerpted from his remarks to Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.
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