“…O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
- Here Captain! dear father!
- This arm beneath your head;
- It is some dream that on the deck,
- You’ve fallen cold and dead….” O Captain! My Captain!’ by Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892), American poet
As an American living abroad, I was very moved and touched watching the arrival of the remains of the American ambassador and the 3 other Americans killed at the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya on September 11. The ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland was befitting the place they held in the hearts of Americans. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech to pay tribute to their lives and sacrifice although sorrowful was full of willful determination and heartfelt convictions. I would like to share it with you:
“Thank you very much, Chaplin. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Panetta, Ambassador Rice, Secretary Powell and Mrs. Powell, family members of the four patriots and heroes we bring home, members of the State Department family, Ladies and gentlemen.
Today, we bring home four Americans who gave their lives for our country and our values. To the families of our fallen colleagues, I offer our most heartfelt condolences and deepest gratitude.
Sean Smith joined the State Department after six years in the Air Force. He was respected as an expert on technology by colleagues in Petoria, Baghdad, Montreal and the Hague. He enrolled in correspondent courses in Penn State and had high hopes for the future. Sean leaves behind a loving wife, Heather, two young children, Samantha and Nathan, and scores of grieving families, friends and colleagues. And that’s just in this world. Because online, in the virtual worlds that Sean helped create, he is also being mourned by countless competitors, collaborators and gamers who shared his passion.
Tyrone Woods, known to most as Rone, spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East. He had the hands of a healer as well as the arms of a warrior. Earning distinction as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. Our hearts go out to Tyrone’s wife, Dorothy, and his three sons, Tyrone Jr., Hunter and Kai born just a few months ago. Along with his grieving family, friends and colleagues.
Glen Doherty, who went by Bub, was also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic. He, too, died as he lived serving his country and protecting his colleagues. Glen deployed to some of the most dangerous places on Earth including Iraq and Afghanistan. Always putting his life on the line to safeguard other Americans. Our thoughts and prayers are with Glen’s father, Bernard, his mother, Barbara, his brother, Gregory, sister, Kathleen and his grieving families, friends and colleagues.
I was honored to know Ambassador Chris Stevens. I want to thank his parents and siblings who are here today for sharing Chris with us and with our country. What a wonderful gift you gave us. Over his distinguished career in the foreign service, Chris won friends for the United States in far flung places. He made those people’s hopes his own.
During the revolution in Libya, he risked his life to help protect the Libyan people from a tyrant. And he gave his life helping them build a better country. People loved to work with Chris. And as he rose through the ranks, they loved to work for Chris. He was known not only for his courage but for his smile. Goofy but contagious. For his sense of fun and that California cool.
In the days since the attack, so many Libyans including the Ambassador from Libya to the United States who is with us today, have expressed their sorrow and solidarity. One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness held up a handwritten sign that said thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.
The President of the Palestinian Authority who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity. And deploring, and I quote, an act of ugly terror. Many others from across the Middle East and North Africa have offered similar sentiments.
This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.
It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless. And it is totally unacceptable. The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts.
And we will, under the President’s leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world. There will be more difficult days ahead, but it is important that we don’t lose sight of the fundamental fact that America must keep leading the world. We owe it to those four men to continue the long hard work of diplomacy.
I am enormously proud of the men and women of the State Department. I’m proud of all those across our government, civilian and military alike, who represent America abroad. They help make the United States the greatest force for peace, progress and human dignity the world has ever known. If the last few days teach us anything, let it be this; that this work and the men and women who risk their lives to do it are at the heart of what makes America great and good.
So we will wipe away our tears, stiffen our spines and face the future undaunted. And we will do it together protecting and helping one another. Just like Sean, Tyrone, Glen and Chris always did. May God bless them. And grant their families peace and solace. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.
And now, let me have the great honor of introducing someone who came to the State Department earlier this week to grieve with us. He well understands and values the work that these men were doing for our country. The President of the United States.”