Friday, February 1, 2013


Another day, another fatal U.S. embassy attack. It was Ankara this time, a suicide bomber. The only confirmed fatality - aside from the bomber himself - is a local-hire embassy guard, not an ambassador, which is why the story in the coveted top center spot on CNN International mere hours after the event was a much more important issue: whether a body recently discovered buried under a parking lot in England is or is not Richard III. When I saw this it made me suddenly angry in a way I did not expect.

I am biased, of course. Another suicide bomber killed 23 people in Pakistan today and 33 people died in an office building explosion in Mexico yesterday, and I hardly noticed. Did you? It seems like this kind of thing is happening so often these days that it's just not really big news anymore, just one more gloomy headline to skim among so many others until it drops off the front page to make way for newer, fresher bad news. It's hard to relate, hard to care, until it happens closer to home.

And for me this is close to home, even though Ankara is thousands of miles away from where I am, because this is in the family. Obviously I never met this guard, don't know anything about him, or even if it is a him and not a her. He was just as much a stranger to me as the victims in Mexico or Pakistan, except that he and I were working for a common goal - protecting and promoting the United States of America. He wasn't just some anonymous contractor, he was a vital part of the mission. Just think how many more news stories about killed ambassadors or perhaps even lowly vice consuls we'd be reading without all the local guard forces on the first line of defense.

With headlines like these most of the world reads, and, having read, moves on. The Foreign Service family pauses to grieve. No, he wasn't an ambassador, but he was one of our own.

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