The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

50 APRIL 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL [in one of the mosque’s minarets] and God will be in the opposite minaret [ sic ].” Amman, by contrast, was an “oasis in the middle of the desert ... nothing but sand and sand-colored houses.” From there, on to the holy city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem impressed Jeannette with what many modern visitors also grapple with—the proximity of the ancient religions to one another, the divisions between them and the difficulty explaining the “mixed feelings one experiences here.” Jerusalemwas divided in half, “Jews on one side, Arabs on the other.” She would have been one of the early Ameri- can witnesses of 60,000 Arab refugees living in tents in nearby Jericho, fed by the newly formed United Nations. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, she observed that Mus- lims are responsible for opening its doors every day and that sections are partitioned between the Greeks, Armenians, Copts, Protestants, Syrians, Ethiopians and Catholics for their services. Jeannette remarked on the beauty of many of the mosques, such as the Mosque of Omar, where Jews had chased the mer- chants from the temple in the Old Testament, and which still had a stained glass window with a cross in its dome. In writing to her sister, a nun, Jeannette said she would not admit to the rest of the family that she had been inside mosques because the “family wouldn’t admit me inside their house if they knew.” Nonetheless, she visited the Holy Land’s many sites with curiosity. AWorthy Record In early 1954, Jeannette was prepar- ing to depart Cairo at the conclusion of her tour and travel to Rhode Island for home leave. She had collected Christmas presents to share with the family on her return, as many Foreign Service officers are wont to do. One evening, she drew a bath at the end of the day as she normally would. After midnight, Jeannette’s room- mate woke up to find the light still on in the bathroom. Looking inside, she found Jeannette submerged in the water. She had died by accident; the water boiler’s candle having blown out, the emission of carbon monoxide had left her uncon- scious, and she drowned. On the 67th anniversary of her death, March 18, 2021, U.S. Embassy Cairo flew an American flag over the embassy grounds in Jeannette Lafrance’s honor. The flag was flown in observation of her public service in World War II and at the Department of State, and the courageous spirit that took her across the globe. As her friend, Ray Noles, had aptly remarked after her death: “She fulfilled her destiny in service of her coun- try and died in its service in one of the remote outposts of the diplomatic service. We can all be quite proud of her record.” Remembering the untold stories of past trailblazers like Jeannette can help us appreciate the present and strive to improve the future. n Left: Jeannette (at left) and her friends tour Luxor. Right: Next to the portrait of Jeannette Lafrance is a letter from U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan R. Cohen to Ms. Lafrance’s sister, Alice Plautz, acknowledging her sister’s pioneering role in the Foreign Service and her untimely death in Cairo. The flag was raised at the embassy in Lafrance’s honor on March 18, 2021, the 67th anniversary of her death. The U.S. Embassy Cairo salute to Jeannette Lafrance on March 18, 2021, during Women’s History month in the United States. COURTESYOFTHELAFRANCEFAMILY U.S.EMBASSYCAIRO U.S.EMBASSYCAIRO