Remarks by U.S. Ambassador John R. Bass for Foreign Service Day
U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan
May 2, 2019
Colleagues, Friends –
Thank you for joining us this morning.
We are here today to mark Foreign Service Day, when we gather to remember and honor our colleagues lost while serving the nation.
Our memorial wall here complements a larger wall at the State Department in Washington. It currently includes 248 names, dating from 1780, when William Palfrey, the consul general en route to France was lost at sea. Other memorial plaques mark many of those from other agencies lost while serving overseas.
I joined the Foreign Service in 1988.
Since then, we have added the names of 85 colleagues lost while serving abroad.
Most were victims of terrorism.
Here in Afghanistan, even as we support Ambassador Khalilzad’s efforts, we remain in the midst of a long conflict. We have lost many on this hard road: Colleagues. Friends. Each month, we have mourned with Afghan friends and colleagues, and with our brothers and sisters in uniform.
Some might worry that after the initial shock of these attacks fades, we will forget those we have lost. We will not. Our presence here today reminds us: as Americans, we do not forget our fallen.
We do not forget because we understand the price of service. We represent the United States of America. We serve our fellow citizens – because we represent all of America – not just “red America,” or “blue America,” but all of America – as one nation. And we do not forget those who have perished in service to our great nation.
Today, we also honor our colleagues and friends who served two nations – Afghanistan and the United States. We do not simply honor their service; we honor their commitment to realizing the vision of a peaceful Afghanistan.
We honor the memory of our local colleagues who died protecting us two years ago. We honor the memory of colleagues who died while seeking to help the people of this country build a brighter future.
One of them was Ambassador Adolph Dubs – known to his colleagues as “Spike.”
Shortly after Ambassador Dubs’ death, one of his colleagues had this to say about his life – about how he had served:
“What was extraordinary about Spike was….his loyalty to those who worked for him. He gave us the courage and the confidence to reach beyond our grasp, to stretch, to dare. Though Spike may be dead – ironically at the hands of the killers he tried mightily to understand – the gentle force of his character and of his example is locked deep inside us. There it will remain for keeps-a thing of the spirit.”
It is the qualities Ambassador Dubs personified – character; generosity of spirit; a life of service – that separate us from our adversaries. They are why I remain convinced that we will prevail in this long fight, here and elsewhere, against extremism, hatred and intolerance.
I see those qualities in all of you. In the work we do here. You represent the best of our nation, and I am proud to serve with you.
And so today, I ask you to remember those we have lost, here and around the world, this year – and to hold in your hearts the spirit and service of all of the individuals on this wall.
Please join me in observing a moment of silence to honor our fallen.