The Foreign Service Journal, June 2009

6 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U N E 2 0 0 9 Concrete Honors for Diplomatic Heroes The valuable and heartfelt letter fromBruce K. Byers (“Thirty Years Ago in Kabul,” March) expresses hope that “in 2009 we will achieve greater pro- gress with our Afghan allies and so honor the memories of all those Afghans and Americans who, like Spike Dubs, have lost their lives in service to our country and to the Afghan people.” Permit me to suggest an initiative for AFSA that would help ensure our State Department Civil and Foreign Service heroes, like Ambassador Dubs, live on in our collective memory— the naming of some State Department buildings for them. Names on public buildings can pro- vide a sense of common purpose, shap- ing our collective memory, our concept of community and the meaning of our democracy. We already have edifices named after Harry S Truman, Ronald Reagan and J. Edgar Hoover. Let’s name some of our buildings to honor real heroes who made great sacrifices to preserve our way of life. An appropriate start would be to name State Annex 2 (where many re- tired Foreign Service employees are working) the Spike Dubs Building. Amb. Dubs also served as a U.S. Ma- rine in the Pacific in World War II (“Once a Marine, Always a Marine”). By extension, his selection would also honor the Marine security guards, some of whom have given their lives while helping to protect the Foreign Service worldwide. Francis Xavier Cunningham FSO, retired Arlington, Va. Recognizing the Foreign Service Since 1991, I have had several op- portunities to serve as a public member on U.S. Foreign Service award, tenure and performance panels. Through this service, I have been privy to informa- tion that identifies many members of the U.S. diplomatic corps as skilled, in- telligent, dedicated and courageous professionals. These men and women should be counted among the most tal- ented and productive individuals on the planet. Both at home and abroad, Foreign Service personnel work with people from every stratum of society. Citizens of host countries often base their per- ceptions of America in large part on the behavior and demeanor of our Foreign Service representatives. Indeed, one might well view every officer as an am- bassador in his or her own right. The many files I have reviewed attest that they almost always represent our coun- try very positively and personify Amer- ica’s best. They are enthusiastic facilita- tors of our most valued ideals. It is a great tragedy that so many Americans are unaware of the excellent work these individuals do. Insights I have gained fromworking on FS panels have had significant impact on my con- cept of myself as an individual and as an American citizen. Always strong, my pride in American identity and heritage has intensified as a result of increased awareness of the role our diplomatic corps plays in making this world a bet- ter place for all. In the face of national or international crises, I no longer ex- perience any sense of hopelessness, be- cause I have been blessed to know that some of the greatest minds of our time are working to safeguard America, her citizens and people all over the globe. Recognition of Foreign Service members’ contributions should be given a higher position in the hierarchy of governmental accomplishments. Undoubtedly, a major step toward achieving this goal would be amending the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act so that foreign affairs agencies have more free- dom to publicize their goals and ac- complishments. This will enable them to recruit new talent more aggressively, thereby giving taxpayers fuller, more transparent explanations of Foreign Service projects and their role in pre- serving U.S. national security. The American people have a right to know about the magnificent diplo- macy being carried out on their behalf. With this inmind, I respectfully suggest that the president, Secretary of State and Congress be encouraged to pub- L ETTERS