Monday, April 8, 2013

Another Foreign Service Loss

How could something so extraordinarily tragic happen during such an ordinary task? Anne Smedinghoff was delivering books to a school, something public diplomacy officers everywhere do all the time. But she was killed for doing it. How are you supposed to deal with that?

At first you embrace the shock. Because it's easier to function when you're numb. But then the shock wears off. So you switch to robot mode. How else do you get through the day? How else do you offer support to people who knew Anne better than you did? How else do you work on the Crisis Coordination Team (CCT) and read the 30 emails per hour, many describing gruesome medical details about people you work with?

But despite your best efforts to maintain robot mode, some things manage to poke through. The phrase "Anne's remains" catches you off guard as you read CCT emails. While dutifully reviewing early press reports you come across a touching message from her parents. You lose your train of thought as a stray memory of Anne creeps through your mind.

I worked with Anne and admired her ability and positive attitude. But I didn't know her well outside of work. It feels inappropriate for me to try to claim a reaction to her death that is disproportionate to my relationship with her. If this post seems restrained or even a little cold, I guess that's why. The best way I can think of to honor Anne's sacrifice is to stay busy, be useful, keep a stiff upper lip and all that.

This whole thing is tragic and unfair. To Anne, her family and friends, to the others who were killed and wounded. That's the part that hits me the hardest.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Well said, my friend. Thank you for your example. XxOo