We spent the entire day Monday pontificating about 9/11/01. We remembered those who had fallen for our great Country. We told our stories about where we all were ... for most of us remember exactly what we were doing when we heard about the planes hitting the World Trade Center, or when the buildings collapsed. We can articulate how it affected us. As individuals. As a nation. It changed who many of us were.
But it's tough to care. To care means you need to put forth an emotional investment. And there's only so much benevolence to go around. We're so busy providing compassion for family for friends that to try and empathize with people we don't know in a far off land is difficult. It's overwhelming. And it's probably the reason why State Department families congregate towards each other. Like minds ...
The Mission of a U.S. diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad. And while we all expect a certain modicum of increased security for those folks serving like my husband in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, the other personnel, sworn in to uphold our Constitution in almost every other country in the world, well, are no less important. And as we know, in countries any less dangerous. These folks, paired with The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), are on the front line helping other countries while promoting America's ideals. But unlike DS agents, the FSO's are the unarmed warriors. They're diplomatic soldiers, who understand that there are inherent risks associated with the job, yet who still go out into their foreign lands to interact and try to make the world a better place.
It's been a difficult week for the State Department. From the suicide bombing in Peshawar, to the death of a DS agent's son, from the chaos in Egypt and Yemen, a recent cancer diagnosis for a colleague, to the senseless attacks and deaths of the American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya. These tragedies hit home. They affect me. They effect us. I'm mad. And I'm struggling with the knowledge that nobody else cares. Sure, those of us in the State Department do. Officers and EFM's (Eligible Family Members) alike. But if you aren't disturbed by a lockdown in your house, a revolution in your country, if you don't have that personal connection, it just doesn't mean the same thing. Despite the irony that these are the folks fighting to uphold your freedoms and civil liberties ... which would be noticed if they were taken away.
For those of us who do this for a living, we don't do it for the recognition. In fact, most people look at us like we're crazy for living and working in some of the places we do. But we do it anyway because it's a calling.
Tomorrow, when the media headlines again return to political infighting, the chatter on Facebook and twitter dies down, people go back to pinning recipes and art projects on Pinterest and watching their reality TV, please remember and appreciate those of us serving in virtual anonymity in some of the farthest corners of the world, away from our family and friends, representing our country and its ideals. We do it so you don't have to ...
"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." ~ John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, January 20, 1961