U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry presided over a ceremony on Friday (May 3) in which the names were read aloud as family members and State Department staff looked on.
“I wish we didn’t need a wall like this. I wish I could tell all of you and all of you brilliant young State Department personnel up there, I wish I could tell you we are not going to add any more names to this wall. I wish I could say that with certainty. But the truth of the matter is there will be more. There will be more. But with God’s guidance and a little bit of luck, there will be fewer than might otherwise occur because of all the work they do and have done. You can be sure that we will do everything in our power to protect you all as you serve overseas,” Biden said.
Among the newly inscribed names was that of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in an assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
Stevens are three other Americans were killed during the assault. They are all now listed on the wall.
Anne Smedinghoff’s name was also added. The 25-year-old was killed in Zabul province, Afghanistan.
“It’s a hard day. It’s a day that brings back pain, but it’s also a day, I hope, of comfort and of pride in knowing that the contributions and the memories of your loved ones are a permanent part of the State Department, as strong as the marble which will carry their names for eternity. Today we add eight names to our wall of honor, eight people who dedicated their lives to service and, to a person, each one sought out the most difficult assignments. They understood the risks and still they raised their hands and they said ‘Send me.’,” Kerry said.
Kerry on Tuesday (April 30) pledged full cooperation with lawmakers’ queries into the Benghazi assault, while his spokesman dismissed reports that whistleblowers faced retaliation.
The assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last September 11, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed, was criticized as a major security failure for President Barack Obama’s administration ahead of the November elections.
Some Republicans continue to assail Obama over the administration’s conflicting early accounts of what happened.