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The Cable

State Department honors fallen Foreign Service officer

Secretary of State John Kerry and host of other State Department employees gathered Thursday to pay tribute to Anne Smedinghoff, the 25 year old Foreign Service officer who was killed last month in Afghanistan. The memorial was closed to the press at the family’s request but a foreign service blog called Life After Jerusalem reported ...

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Secretary of State John Kerry and host of other State Department employees gathered Thursday to pay tribute to Anne Smedinghoff, the 25 year old Foreign Service officer who was killed last month in Afghanistan.

The memorial was closed to the press at the family’s request but a foreign service blog called Life After Jerusalem reported on some of Kerry’s remarks about Smedinghoff earlier this week in an announcement about the memorial.

“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,” he said. “We feel it especially this week as we gather to add new names to the Memorial Wall here at State.”

The State Department released the speech Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine gave at Smedinghoff’s memorial. Smedinghoff was a public diplomacy officer and was killed while on walking to a school where the U.S. was donating text books.

“As a diplomat dedicated to serving her country, Anne was special. She was special because she was a model, a model of the engaged PD officer. Like the almost 3,500 public diplomacy professionals who serve here and around the world – and that includes our local staffers – she understood that every day there was something she could do to reach out to foreign audiences. Something she could do to help people develop a greater understanding of the freedoms, the values, and the opportunities that we live by,” Sonenshine said. “She intuitively understood the well-known statement of my original predecessor Edward R. Murrow. He said, ‘The real crucial link in the international exchange is the last three feet, which is bridged by personal contact, one person talking to another.'”

The American Foreign Service Association held its annual Memorial Plaque Ceremony at the State Department this morning, and Smedinghoff’s name was among those deceased Foreign Service officers honored, along with the four U.S. personnel who died in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods and Glen Doherty.

The ceremony also honored Ragai Said Abdelfattah, the USAID Foreign Service officer who was killed in Afghanistan last August, as well as two foreign service officers who died in Vietnam in the 1970s, Joseph Fandino and Francis Savage.

Smedinghoff’s alma matter Johns Hopkins University also held a memorial for her April 27.

 Twitter: @joshrogin

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