Sunday, March 2, 2014

Foreign Service Memorial

The American Foreign Service Association maintains a memorial at the west end of the diplomatic lobby, the C Street entrance to the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.  On plaques are the names of Foreign Service personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  The latest listed include Ambassador Chris Stevens and his telecommunications officer Sean Smith: “Terrorist Attack – Libya 2012,” say the inscriptions.  Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton.  President was Barack Obama. 

The first name on the memorial is that of Revolutionary War patriot William Palfrey, lost at sea in 1780 on his way to France to serve as consul-general, by unanimous appointment of the Second Continental Congress, of which John Hancock was president.  The American Foreign Service at that time consisted mainly of John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. 

AFSA currently lists 244 names from deaths in 64 foreign countries and at sea.  Assassinations, embassy bombings, yellow fever, cholera have claimed lives of Foreign Service personnel, those who work at embassies, consulates, and missions worldwide, some locations lovely and/or exotic, some not. 

Earliest victim of violence appears to have been Harris E. Fudger, murdered in Bogata, Colombia, 1825.  Secretary of State was Henry Clay of Kentucky.  President was John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State for the previous President (James Monroe) and son of the second President of the United States (John Adams).

Many Foreign Service civilians died in Vietnam, along with 58,000+ military.  Secretaries of State included Dean Rusk, William Rogers, and Henry Kissinger, Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

The suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, 1983, killed 63 people, many of their names engraved on the AFSA memorial.  Secretary of State was George Shultz.  President was Ronald Reagan.

U.S. Foreign Service Officer David Foy was specifically targeted in an attack on the consulate compound in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2006, the third in the same number of years.  President George Bush was scheduled to visit in two days.  Condolezza Rice was Secretary of State

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