It has been a busy, very difficult day across the State Department, our diplomatic Missions abroad, and other U.S. Government facilities and agencies.
We have grieved for our four murdered colleagues while moving to respond in various ways to the outrageous, cowardly attack on our Benghazi Consulate that claimed their lives.
As Secretary Clinton said at the start of the day, “There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do.”
In addition to the flurry of behind-the-scenes activity at home and abroad, there were several brief but powerful public engagements.
Flags were lowered to half mast at American diplomatic missions and other facilities around the world.
President Obama spoke from the White House Rose Garden about the events of yesterday, and Secretary Clinton delivered public remarks from the Treaty Room of the Department of State. You can watch their eloquent, powerful appearances below, or you can read the transcripts of their respective statements at the hyperlinks in the prior sentence.
Together the President and Secretary met with grieving colleagues of Ambassador Stevens and the other fallen officers at the Department of State’s main building. The messages that I have received from friends who were present described a very emotional encounter filled with tears, hugs, pride in the Department’s culture of fearless service, and steely resolve.
After mingling through the assembly, the Secretary and President spoke briefly and signed a condolence book in front of marble tablets bearing the names of all State Department personnel who have lost their lives in the service of our country over the years. Affixed to a wall in the Department’s principal entrance, the tablets are a daily reminder of the risks faced — and the price too often paid – by diplomats in the service of our country. I have paused at those tablets many times, struck by the large number of names they contain.
Here at Missions New Zealand and Samoa we lowered our flags, paused to mourn our fallen colleagues, implemented the measures necessary when a part of our network is attacked, conducted appropriate safety drills, and held all-hands town halls to convey information and answer questions.
And then, as State Department officers and staff have done for the past 223 years, we turned back to the important responsibilites with which we have been charged. “There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do.”