Many in today’s world are concerned that young people are growing up with wrong values and mostly concerned about themselves. The increase in cases regarding bullying in schools as well as crimes committed by young adults tend to support concern in regards to young adults. Yet, the generation of adults that are in there early twenties have shown through their actions concern with others before their own.
One such person, 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff, was a U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan who put others needs and safety before her own. On Saturday, she was killed in an IED blast as she went to a school in Qalat that is located in the Zabul province to donate books. She died doing what she loved to do; helping others.
Five Americans were killed in an explosion on Saturday in Afghanistan as well as four state department employees were hurt; one of them critically. Of the five that were killed, three were U.S. soldiers and one was a civilian employee. The fifth was 25-year-old Foreign Service officer Anne Smedinghoff from suburban Chicago and is the first U.S. diplomat that died on the job since the Benghazi attack in Libya.
This occurred last year and resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens being killed. Those that knew Smedinghoff on Sunday said she will be remembered as being “a bright and brave young woman.” A statement released from her parents said, “She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people,” her parents said in a statement, “and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war.”
The other victims have yet to be identified as of Sunday while Secretary of State John Kerry said that though the nation mourns the loss of all the victims, he spoke about Anne as he recently met her during a visit to Afghanistan.
During a visit to Turkey, Kerry said, “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. She was met by cowardly terrorists determined to bring darkness and death to total strangers.”
As he spoke with U.S. diplomats stationed in Istanbul, Kerry offered a sharp condemnation of the violence going on as he said, “The folks who want to kill people, and that’s all they want to do, are scared of knowledge. And they want to shut the doors and they don’t want people to make their choices about the future. For them, it’s ‘You do things my way and if you don’t, we’ll throw acid in your face. We’ll put a bullet in your face,’ to a young girl trying to learn. So this is a huge challenge for us. It is a confrontation with modernity, with possibilities, and everything that our country stands for, everything we stand for, is embodied in what Anne Smedinghoff stood for.”
Kerry continued to talk about Smedinghoff and described her as being idealistic, selfless and having a determination to make the world a better place to live in. He added, “Anne was everything that is right about our Foreign Service. She was smart and capable, committed to our country… 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.”
Tom Smedinghoff, Anne’s father, commented on how the family has found peace knowing that she died trying to make the world a better place, something that she loved doing. He said, “It was a great adventure for her … She loved it. She was tailor-made for this job.” Anne joined the Foreign Service immediately after she finished college and her first post was in Caracas, Venezuela. From there, she volunteered to serve next in Afghanistan. According to her father, she said,”What would I do in London or Paris? It would be so boring.” She would also travel in her free time.
Tom spoke with the Chicago Tribune and said that while she was in Afghanistan, she focused on public diplomacy for the local population as well as trying to establish equality for women. He said, “She was living in a compound that was heavily fortified and she was always trying to get out and do things for the population.”
Friends remembered her Sunday not only for the selfless work she did in Afghanistan but also for the charity work she did back in the U.S. In 2009, she participated in a cross-country bike ride for The 4K for Cancer – part of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
After the ride from Baltimore to San Francisco, she served on the group’s board of directors. Ryan Hanley, a founder of the group, said, “She was an incredible young woman. She was always optimistic,” said Ryan Hanley, a founder of the group. “She always had a smile on her face and incredible devotion to serving others.”
U.S. Diplomat Anne Smedinghoff Killed in Afghanistan
Parents of the 25-year-old foreign service officer say “she had a passion for what she was doing.”
Anne Smedinghoff, 25-year-old diplomat killed in Afghanistan
25-year-old diplomat killed in Afghanistan.