US Diplomat Killed, Remembered as 'Selfless' Worker

U.S. Diplomat Anne Smedinghoff of Illinois was killed Sunday in a Taliban attack while serving in Afghanistan. Her death has angered Secretary of State John Kerry, who issued scathing remarks toward those responsible for her death.

"Anne and those with her were attacked by the Taliban terrorists who woke up that day not with a mission to educate or to help, but with a mission to destroy. A brave American was determined to brighten the light of learning through books, written in the native tongue of the students she had never met, whom she felt it incumbent to help," Kerry said while in Turkey on meetings.

Smedinghoff had worked with Kerry when he visited Afghanistan just two weeks ago. She specifically volunteered for an assignment in Afghanistan after serving in Venezuela, even though she knew how dangerous it would be. Smedinghoff worked as a press officer and was due to finish her assignment in July, then return to the U.S. where she would study Arabic.

She was "vivacious, smart and capable," Kerry added in his remarks. She "was met by a cowardly terrorist determined to bring darkness and death to total strangers. These are the challenges that our citizens face, not just in Afghanistan but in many dangerous parts of the world– where a nihilism, an empty approach, is willing to take life rather than give it."

Her death "strengthened the resolve of the nation, the diplomatic corps, the military, all resources determined to continue the hard work of helping people to help themselves," Kerry said. "America does not and will not cower before terrorism. We are going to forge on, we're going to step up. We put ourselves in harm's way because we believe in giving hope to our brothers and sisters all over the world."

Smedinghoff is the first ambassador to be killed since Chris Stevens, the ambassador to Libya, who was killed in an attack on Sept. 11 in Benghazi. Her death has left a void in the lives of those who knew her; John Hopkins officials mourned her death in a letter, and University President Ronald J. Daniels said, "her selfless action for others was nothing new."

"It was a great adventure for her … She loved it," her father, Tom, told the Associated Press. "She was tailor-made for this job. It's like a nightmare you think will go away, and it's not. We keep saying to ourselves, we're just so proud of her. We take consolation in the fact that she was doing what she loved."