Foreign Service Day

In 1996, the United States Senate designated the first Friday in May as “American Foreign Service Day.” It is on this day that members of the Foreign Service around the world come together to recognize the work that our nation’s diplomats do. It is also a day to pay tribute to those we’ve lost; today at high noon, we at U.S. Embassy Canberra gathered at the chancery flagpole for a few moments of reflection and remembrance.

Standing in a semicircle, we faced a black-draped table on which sat framed photographs of some of our colleagues who have died overseas – from illness, accidents, and terrorist attacks. The autumn wind blew and snapped the flags as dry leaves skittered across the pavement. Looking at their earnest faces, faces that look a lot like ours, was a sobering reminder of the meaning of what we are doing, beyond the day-to-day.

Every morning, American Foreign Service Officers at 270 posts around the world get up and go to work to protect and advance America’s interests. You may not see us, but we’re out here, more than 16,000 of us.

We conduct trade deals, protect America’s borders, advocate for American agriculture, explain our foreign policy, engage with local cultures, assist American citizens in crisis, and so much more. We serve far from the comforts of home, sometimes in poor or dangerous conditions, and sometimes even apart from our immediate families.

We serve because we love our country, and we believe in our Constitution, which unites us across party and ideological lines. We serve because we want to see a prosperous, safe, strong United States.

Sometimes we don’t come home. This is what it means to fly the flag, and each of us knows this when we take that proud oath. Even when our work is not understood or appreciated, those of us who “get it” keep plugging along, moving the ball down the court when we can, and when we can’t, standing strong with our allies against the adversaries of freedom, democracy, and a rules-based order.

In the lobby of the Department of State C Street building in Washington stands the Memorial Wall. First installed in 1933, the inscription on the plaque reads, “Erected by members of the American Foreign Service Association in honor of diplomatic and consular officers of the United States who while on active duty lost their lives under heroic or tragic circumstances.”

I remember standing somberly with my colleagues in the diplomatic lobby during A-100, gazing at the Memorial Wall. I said a silent prayer to God to watch over our class and keep us safe during our service.

I think all of us when confronted with such a moment pray that it won’t happen to us, and yet we know it could. And we offer our respect to those who have gone before us, those who understood that this job could mean writing a blank check, up to and including your life, for your country. And it rarely comes to that, but for those for whom it did, we thank you for your brave service, and commit to continuing the shared work we all believe in. No day shall erase you.

The Memorial Wall lists the names of all 250 American diplomats to date who have died serving their country. If you would like to read the names, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) maintains a list here.

  1 comment for “Foreign Service Day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Dr. Eric Perry, PhD

Psychology to Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Passport Overused

Showing the beauty of this world through the people, places and culture

Trailing Spouse Tales

My Life As An Expat Abroad


My thoughts.

Wright Outta Nowhere

Tales from a Serial Expat

from the back of beyond

Detroit --> Angola --> Chile --> Cambodia--> India

adrift . . . but in a good way

the doings of the familia Calderón

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

A little drama every day. ~Dramababyabroad


Wanderings & Wonderings

The Multicultural Marketer

Inclusion Isn't Optional


two humans, one cat, and our lives together in West Africa

travelin' the globe

my travels, my way. currently exploring eswatini and the rest of southern africa as a peace corps volunteer

Collecting Postcards

Foreign Service Officer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

a rambling collective

Possibilities of connections and a sense of belonging.

Road Unraveled

Part-time travelers who want to inspire you to take a different vacation and go see the world!

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves


Chimping around the world!

The Unlikely Diplomat

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Countdown To Freedom

A blog about health, the keto diet, weight loss, family, relationships, travel & love!

The Mongolian Way

just a Rhode Island girl living in a Kazakh world

Latitude with Attitude

Exploring the World Diplomatically

Let's Go Somewhere

A life well-lived around the world.

Cu Placere

Joyce Hooley


Foreign Service Blog

Six Abroad

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." - Helen Keller

A Diplomat's Wife

just another story

bama in the balkans

Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia

Adventures in Macedonia

A Peace Corps Story

Twelve Knots

My Journey to the Foreign Service

Sarah Jones Abroad

I am serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, come read about my advetures

Notes From Post

A Diplomat's Life Abroad

Raised in the Foreign Service

40 years later, a TCK looks at the world through the lens of Embassy family life

Around the World in Thirty Years

A little ditty about our adventures in the Foreign Service

memories over mohinga

a peace corps memoir

Bembes Abroad

Two People, Two Dogs...One New Country

Sending Postcards Home!

From travels around the world, with love..

Kelsey Schmitt

Travel & Lifestyle

Nomads By Nature: The Adventures Continue

We are a foreign service family currently posted in Windhoek, Namibia!!

Adventures Abroad

tales from a life abroad.


Ramblings about the life of a Texpat.

%d bloggers like this: