ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

A Dark Day

Last night I went to sleep thinking of the members of the US Foreign Service, and those who serve alongside them, in Egypt and Libya. This morning, as is my routine, I lifted the ipad off my bedside table to read the news before getting up to get the kids ready for school, I quickly descended into a state of sorrow. I learned that four of the people I was keeping in my thoughts last night are dead, my heart aches.

I read with shock the news of Ambassador Stevens’ death, of the deaths of three more who were with him. After a moment of utter disbelief I broke down into quiet sobs, pushing my head into my pillow so I didn’t wake our sleeping son who had crawled into our bed some time during the night. I cried. I cried for the loss of life, I cried for their families and friends, for those with whom they served. The entire year my husband was in Iraq I was terrified of a knock on the door, I cried knowing there were families hearing that knock on their doors.

I didn’t know Ambassador Stevens, or Sean Smith, the Foreign Service Officer whose name I would hear a little later, or, to my knowledge, the two others who haven’t yet been named. But here’s what I do know: they died in service to their country, they died standing strong for diplomacy, they are heroes. While I can be, at times, testy about the Department one thing I have always felt deeply is something that goes beyond a sense of camaraderie for my husband’s colleagues and for our fellow FS families. At our first post we were told the FS is like an extended family, that comforted me because we were suddenly so far from our own families. We were told this by another family who, when our animals arrived a day ahead of us in Guinea because our flight had been cancelled, took our animals in without a second thought. They cared for them as their own until we arrived. One of the members of that same family would later, during our evacuation, help me navigate the daunting international trip with my three children–helping me carry them through airports, feeding them in the middle of the night, walking them up and down the aisles of an airplane. If those are not the actions of family than nothing is. Many times, over the course of our seven years in the FS, I have seen this carried out time and again in so many ways. So I cry for our extended family, for the FS family.

And I am eternally grateful that there are members of our Foreign Service like Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, and the two more who were with them. In her remarks today Secretary of State Clinton said:

All over the world, every day, America’s diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values, because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world, that these aspirations are worth striving and sacrificing for. Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation.

Thank you to those who serve, to those who believe so strongly in the gifts diplomacy has to give that you will risk your lives, uproot your families, and walk a difficult path in service to our country, and in service to diplomacy. Thank you to my fellow FS families for your sacrifices and for being such an amazing support structure. I am beyond proud to call you all members of my community and extended family. My deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have been lost, I simply cannot express how sad I am for your loss; you are in my thoughts, as are those who were killed, and those who are still struggling in Libya and Egypt. Yesterday was a dark, dark day.

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3 thoughts on “A Dark Day

  1. Thank you for sharing, Heather…. very touching….most of us will never know the life you lead and what you know from walking in those shoes….but through your writing….I sometimes get it…..I am sorry for your loss….for our loss as US citizens.

  2. Pingback: “We’ll be safe when we get to the embassy …” « mom2nomads

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