WASHINGTON–Secretary of State John Kerry is en route to Chicago on Monday morning to pay a condolence call on the parents of slain diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, who grew up and attended high school in the western suburbs.
A State Department spokesman told the Sun-Times on Monday Kerry “will stop in Chicago on his way home from Tokyo to visit the parents of Anne Smedinghoff and express his condolences in person in a private meeting.”
In Tokyo, Kerry told the U.S. embassy staff that Smedinghoff’s killing should not deter nor strip them of motivation or idealism. She died in Afghanistan following an April 6 apparent suicide bombing attack.
“I’m going to be stopping in Chicago on the way back. The reason I’m stopping in Chicago is to visit with the parents of Anne Smedinghoff, who we lost just, as you know, a few days ago. And this is a family. Everybody understands and feels that kind of a loss. A 25-year-old young woman, full of idealism, full of hopes, taking books to children in a school so they can learn, and wiped out by terrorism, by the worst kind of nihilistic nothing – violence that doesn’t stand for anything except killing people and stopping the future.
“So we’re not going to be deterred. We’re going to be inspired. And we’re going to use Anne’s idealism as another motivation for the idealism that brings all of you to this effort in the first place. We can make this world better. We can strengthen other countries. We’ve seen it happen. I used the example earlier today of what we did only 10, 20 years ago: We were giving aid to the Republic of Korea, and it was still struggling and emerging. Today, Korea is giving aid to other countries, and it’s a strong nation with a vibrant democracy, and it’s a partner in these kinds of efforts. That’s what this is all about. Mongolia today, hosting a conference on democracy; who would have thought about that a number of years ago? Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi standing with the generals, a prisoner of 20 years, and working towards democracy. That’s what this is all about.
“So I just want to say a profound thank you to all of you. As long as I’m Secretary of State, I promise you I will do everything in my power to cover your back. You cover mine, and we’ll be a good team together and we’ll get the job done,” Kerry said.
The wake for Smedinghoff will be on Tuesday in Oak Park at the Drechsler, Brown & Williams funeral home; the funeral is Wednesday at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in River Forest. The State Department will hold a memorial service at a later date.
Kerry heads to Chicago after winding up an Asian tour; en route his plane stopped in Alaska.