Remarks at The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Ronald Reagan Building
July 14, 2008
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, Henrietta. We have gathered today, as one foreign affairs family, to mourn the loss, celebrate the lives, and honor the service of four friends and colleagues, all of whom were taken from us while working to better the lives of the people of Sudan.
John Granville, native of Buffalo, proud graduate of Canisius High, Peace Corps volunteer, Fulbright fellow, democracy officer, loyal brother, and most of all, an adoring and devoted son. Those who knew John best spoke of a man with a beaming, infectious smile, with an easy affection for his friends, and they for him, and of course, with a furry best friend, Cooper, who was nearly as universally loved as his owner.
I am told that John spent the most time of anyone on his small team traveling around Sudan so that he could build relationships with anyone, and that John’s talents were indispensable to our mission’s ability to do its good work in some of the toughest, remotest parts of Sudan.
Some of you may remember a picture that ran in some of the papers around the time of John’s death, the one of him surrounded by Sudanese women, all holding up the handheld radios that John worked so hard to get for them. To John, and ultimately for those women, radios were more than just a tool of information. They were a means of belonging. They were sources of empowerment. And they were, perhaps, the beginnings of peace. This was a portrait of a man who loved his work, and who loved – was loved by the people who worked with him.
More than anything in the world, though, I am told that John loved his family, and that their love sustained him. And we are honored to have John’s sister, Katie, and her family and John’s beloved mother, Jane, with us here this afternoon. Thank you for being here to help us remember John, and may God grant you solace in your time of sorrow.
Today, we also remember the man who perished in the same attack as John, a son of Juba, a brave Foreign Service National, who was John’s friend and colleague and ours, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama or, simply, A.R. to those who knew him best. I am told by A.R.’s friends, who worked with him in our mission in Sudan, that one of the things which sustained them in their jobs and most enabled them to do their work successfully, was knowing that no matter where they were, no matter what time it was, and no matter how demanding the task was, they knew that if they called A.R., he would be there for them, reliable, knowledgeable, trustworthy, a true partner.
Our Foreign Service Nationals are the jewels of our diplomatic and development services abroad and A.R. was a shining example of this. And so to his wife, Fatma, and to his lovely young son, Mujtabe, and to his father Mr. Mohamed, who have traveled all the way from Sudan to join us in this afternoon, with mournful hearts, we offer you our deepest condolences, and we thank you for honoring us with your presence today.
It is a solemn honor to announce that both John and A.R. will be awarded the Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service in recognition of their ultimate sacrifice in service to our citizens and their fellow man. This award was named, of course, for our first secretary of state. And it is an expression of the profound debt of gratitude that our entire nation owes to your family and to yours.
Let me also take this moment this afternoon to pay tribute to two more of our Foreign Service National colleagues, Dominic Morris and Chaplain Lako. They lost their lives more than 15 years ago in the service of peace and freedom and human advancement in Sudan. And it has been a long time, and we were finally able to give them – to give their sacrifice its proper recognition. And I’m pleased today, that that day has come at last.
In the lives that we remember this afternoon, now in the twilight of their passing, we are reminded that America’s diplomats and development professionals, as well as their foreign partners, are serving and sacrificing in some of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world. But they do so for the noblest of purposes, so that others may know lives of dignity and opportunity and liberty and peace. It is to the success of these principles in Sudan that we, in their memory, reaffirm our commitment today.
May we, the men and women of USAID and the State Department, forever celebrate these four men’s lives in the way that we live our own. May we hold ourselves to the same high standards of decency and service that they did. And may we pray that these four souls now know a love and a joy and a life that are boundless in duration.
Released on July 14, 2008