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72
NOVEMBER 2012
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
AFSA NEWS
BY DONNA AYERST,
EDI TOR
Ambassador Thomas Pickering speaks to family members and the hundreds who gathered in the rotunda of San
Franciso City Hall to honor the life of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Celebrating a Courageous Diplomat and Son of California
On Oct. 16, as family, friends
and members of the pub-
lic took their seats, two
large screens flanking the
rotunda’s grand staircase in
San Francisco’s majestic City
Hall displayed the video of
Ambassador J. Christopher
Stevens introducing himself
to the people of Libya.
Amb. Chris Stevens
and three other Americans
were killed when terrorists
attacked the U.S. mission in
Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Hundreds of people came
to mourn the tragic death of
Chris, but also to celebrate
his exemplary life. As the
service began, a string
quartet played Mozart and
Shubert, with Chris’s step-
brother, David Commanday,
playing his mother’s cello.
What followed was a progres-
sion of speakers who shared
vignettes, memories and
stories of their brother, friend
or colleague.
Despite the monumen-
tal space, the love shared
by those who knew Chris
best made it seem cozy. His
brother, Tom Stevens, and
sisters Anne Stevens Sullivan
and Hilary Stevens Koziol,
shared childhood memories
of an older brother who was
mischievous, funny and could
talk you into doing things
you didn’t want to do but did
them anyway.
Tom Stevens said that he
never got into a fight with
Chris, ever. But that didn’t
mean Chris didn’t talk him
into launching an attack on
their sister Anne. Over laughs
from the audience, Tom said,
“I still don’t know why.”
The siblings visited Chris
wherever he was posted,
and always felt a sense of
importance by the attention
Chris paid his family when
he returned to California. His
sister, Anne, recalled how
Chris immediately took his
place in the family, eating
and drinking, playing tennis
and listening to their stories.
“When he was home, he was
home,” she said.
Steve McDonald, Chris’s
roommate at the Univer-
sity of California, Berkeley,
shared, “Some say, ‘don’t
sweat the small stuf,’ but I
think Chris was successful
because he paid attention to
the little details and common
courtesies that showed the
world he cared.”
Chris enjoyed playing
tennis with The Honorable Ali
Suleiman Aujali, the Libyan
ambassador to the United
States. Amb. Aujali regards
his friendship with Chris as
highly as he regards his place
in Libya’s history. Look-
ing directly into the eyes of
Chris’s family, he told them
that Chris would always be
a hero of Libya’s revolution,
that Chris has become a part
of Libya’s history and will
never be forgotten.
“You sent us your best
diplomat, but unfortunately,
we were not able to protect
him,” he said. “I am sorry we
were not able to protect him.”
Thomas Pickering, former
U.S. ambassador and under
secretary of state, reiterated
by saying, “Chris was among
the very best our Foreign Ser-
vice has to ofer.”
“He was our leader when
it came to Libya,” noted
George Schultz, former sec-
retary of state.
“Chris was the living
embodiment of everything an
exemplary diplomat should
be: selfless and inquisitive,
driven yet principled,” said
Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton on Oct. 2.
“From the Peace Corps to
the State Department, his
creativity, charisma and intel-
ligence made him a model
spokesman on the front lines
of American diplomacy.”