Memorial honors life of slain U.S. Ambassador

October 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Friends, family, and dignitaries gathered at San Francisco City Hall Tuesday evening for a public memorial service honoring the life of slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. The Bay Area native was killed on September 11th during an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

The family is going to have a private service next month in Grass Valley, where Stevens was born. Tuesday's ceremony gave the public its chance to pay its respects.

Hundreds of people attended the memorial that was billed as "a celebration of life" for Christopher Stevens. The family of the fallen diplomat, friends from his days at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Hastings Law School, and colleagues from the state department joined together in the majestic rotunda at City Hall.

Mayor Ed Lee began the memorial with remarks praising Stevens' life, "While we have lost a true hero for this country, his accomplishments and generosity live on in all of the places he has served."

Mayor Lee's Chief of Protocol, Charlotte Shultz, put the program together. One of the speakers was her husband, former Secretary of State George Schultz, who expressed his admiration for Stevens and all Americans in the Foreign Service, "He thinks that they really do a great service for the United States, so he is here to pay respect to the ambassador and to all ambassadors serving around the world that go out there to talk about peace and to talk about communication," Charlotte said.

The 52-year-old Stevens and three other Americans were killed on the anniversary of September 11th during an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. His family says Stevens was there helping to launch a cultural exchange center.

Stevens' two sisters and brother shared personal stories of their fallen sibling. One of his sisters, Anne Stevens Sullivan, added that he "set the standards for our family really high," and that she "saw the magic of the Middle East through his wide, optimistic eyes."

After graduation Stevens traveled the world, first with the American Field Service and the Peace Corps, then eventually in various roles with the federal government. He became the ambassador to Libya in May.

Libyan Ambassador to the U.S. Ali Suleiman Aujali expressed his condolences about Stevens' death, saying, "You sent us one of your best diplomats ... and unfortunately we were not able to protect him."

Donations can be made to the J. Christopher Stevens Fund on www.rememberingchrisstevens.com, a website set up by the family. The fund will help build bridges between the U.S. and the Middle East by promoting religious tolerance, educational youth exchanges and other programs.

(Bay City News contributed to this report)

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