News / USA

Kerry Meets Family of Slain US Diplomat

Kerry Meets Family of Slain US Diplomati
X
April 16, 2013 11:42 AM
Two weeks before she was killed in Afghanistan, diplomat Anne Smedinghoff escorted Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the country. On Monday, Kerry stopped in Chicago to visit with the parents of 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff, who was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports that as Secretary Kerry met with her parents and siblings AT O'Hare Airport, her hometown continued to mourn her loss.
Kerry Meets Family of Slain US Diplomat
Two weeks before she was killed in Afghanistan, diplomat Anne Smedinghoff escorted Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to the country.  On Monday, Kerry stopped in Chicago to visit with the parents of  Smedinghoff, 25, who was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.  As Secretary Kerry met with her parents and siblings at O'Hare Airport, her hometown continued to mourn her loss.

At Fenwick High School in suburban Chicago, Associate Principal Richard Borsch remembers that former student Anne Smedinghoff was destined for public service, reflected in a college recommendation by one her teachers.

American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, in an undated photo.American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, in an undated photo.
x
American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, in an undated photo.
American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, in an undated photo.
The last two lines of one his recommendations said, [if] 'She will be as active and involved as she was at Fenwick on your campus, please give this future public servant every possible consideration.'  That’s when she was 17," Borsch noted.

Just eight years later her promising career as a diplomat was cut short by an apparent suicide bomber, and the loss has brought the war in Afghanistan home to Fenwick High School.

 “I think whatever people consider of our foreign involvement, it’s a bit of an abstraction until its one of your own students, one of your own graduates, one of your own community," Borsch said, "and then it’s brought home with great emotional impact.”

That emotional impact has brought the community of River Forest, Illinois - Smedinghoff’s hometown together.

As word of her death spread, neighbors and church leaders quickly organized a drive to place white ribbons and flags throughout the community to honor Smedinghoff.

The response exceeded Margaret Brown’s expectations.

 “I had bought 500 flags, and by 4:30 pm or 5:00 pm we had already gone through those first 500 flags,” Brown said.

“On my way home, all the way through the Oak Park area, through River Forest, all the way to the community I live in, white ribbons all along the route.  Pretty impressive,” remarked Borsch.

Local churches passed out the flags and ribbons to people who donated books in Anne’s memory.  The blast that took her life occurred while visiting an Afghan school to distribute textbooks.

"She was there as a peace builder, and living internationally in a dangerous place, " Brown said, "but she was all about having good relationships with the Afghan people and especially the children.”

Father Richard Peddicord, the President of Fenwick High School, a Catholic institution, led a memorial mass at the school for Anne Smedinghoff.

He said that while a guiding light in the local community has now been extinguished, she did not die in vain.

 “Whether it could be Afghanistan, it could be anywhere, that doing the right thing, helping people, bringing textbooks to kids that need them, regardless of the overall political or historical context, is a good thing,” he said.

The secretary of state called Anne Smedinghoff "full of idealism and...hope," just as she will be remembered here at Fenwick High School.

Kane Farabaugh

Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs