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On Foreign Affairs Day, the State Department added 71 names to the Memorial Plaque located in the lobby of the State Department. AFSA maintains the plaque. According to AFSA, the plaque’s establishment grew out of AFSA’s efforts in the late 1920s and early 1930s to establish a “Roll of Honor” naming colleagues who had died in the line of duty while serving overseas, including due to violence, natural disasters, tropical diseases, and accidents during official travel. Please click here to view the criteria for inclusion in the plaque. If you wish to submit a name for consideration, please fill out this form. Read more here.
According to WaPo, the honorees fall into two general categories: 58 died overseas before 1933 and had been forgotten, and 13 died overseas between 1938 and 1971 and had been previously overlooked or excluded.
Current AFSA President Ambassador Eric Rubin said that “In honoring them we honor all of the men and women of the U.S. Foreign Service who serve their country in, at times, very difficult circumstances and conditions and give of themselves in the true tradition of public service.”
The WaPo piece also said that “Those who died overseas by suicide, natural causes or while doing something illegal are still not eligible …. and anyone in the Foreign Service who died overseas of the coronavirus would not be eligible since it is a worldwide pandemic.”
We’re wondering how many more names would be added if we count suicide for the Memorial Plaque?
If Foreign Service employees are considered on duty 24/7, shouldn’t deaths that occurred while on official order count on the memorial plaque? The criteria for consideration includes a note that also says “Deaths involving the decedent’s illegal, negligent, reckless, or selfish behavior are not eligible for inclusion.”
Besides the fact that suicide could be “due to disease related to particular circumstances of overseas assignment“, isn’t it time to recognize that suicide is not/not a selfish choice? This view contributes to the misunderstanding of mental illness.” In ‘Don’t Say It’s Selfish: Suicide Is Not a Choice’, a clinical psychologist writes that “suicide is not a personal weakness or someone’s “fault,” …. suicide is often a product of mental health and environmental variables that we don’t fully comprehend.” It is time to rethink this.
Today we added 71 names to the memorial wall in the lobby of the @StateDept's headquarters. This memorial honors the women and men who gave their lives in service to American diplomacy. #ForeignAffairsDay pic.twitter.com/qjvCMossyG
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 7, 2021
Every year on Foreign Service Day, AFSA remembers those #ForeignService friends and colleagues who lost their lives serving the United States overseas. Each year, names are added and those on the plaques are honored during a solemn ceremony. pic.twitter.com/ot0KKIlQL7
— AFSA (@afsatweets) May 7, 2021
“In honoring them we honor all of the men and women of the U.S. Foreign Service who serve their country in, at times, very difficult circumstances and conditions and give of themselves in the true tradition of public service.” -AFSA President Eric Rubin https://t.co/dIXn3HIFk6
— AFSA (@afsatweets) May 7, 2021
I always found this plaque at the entrance to be so impressive, every time I walked into the lobby. A couple of facts this #ForeignAffairsDay. 1)More ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty than generals. 2)DOD has more uniformed band members than there are FSO's. https://t.co/rnTSVxdyYi
— Luis Moreno (@LuisMorenolg) May 7, 2021
This #ForeignAffairsDay, I’m #FSProud remembering heros & heroines who gave their lives in service to our nation, like my friend Prabhi Kavaler, the first Indian-American interred at Arlington Cemetery. Read her daughter @tarakavaler ‘s tribute here: https://t.co/1Y523dgyPe https://t.co/Mk5QZhh2F5
— Uzra Zeya (@UzraZeya) May 7, 2021
On this #ForeignAffairsDay, we express our gratitude to Stabilization Officers in the field. We honor their efforts to build partnerships with local leaders and support U.S. embassies in preventing and resolving conflict. https://t.co/HZCIAdxEFs pic.twitter.com/AyUPJ1mC0J
— Robert J. Faucher (@CSOAsstSec) May 7, 2021