River Forest resident Anne Smedinghoff "personified" the foreign service, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy said Wednesday at her funeral.
Smedinghoff died during a car-bombing in Afghanistan on Saturday, April 6, 2013. She was 25. In front of a crowd that filled St. Luke Church and overflowed into the school gymnasium, her father, Tom Smedinghoff, explained exactly why she was the perfect fit in the foreign service.
"She was a quiet but confident girl with big ambitions," he said near the end of the funeral Mass. "She was blessed with intelligence and the ability to work hard. But she also had a great deal of compassion for others."
The Fenwick High School graduate was a U.S. foreign service officer in Kabul, Afghanistan, and she was traveling with a group of people to deliver books to a local school in the Zabul Province when she was killed in a car bombing.
"She was deeply devoted to reaching out to the people of Afghanistan," Kennedy said, adding that she brought joy and aid “to a place where caring for one another and keeping the morale was so important.”
Her father thanked the community for its support of the family and took the time to share memories of Anne, painting her personality to show a smart, dedicated and caring person.
She was independent. Tom Smedinghoff recalled Anne in second grade, when she was a Girl Scout and selling cookies for the first time. "We got to the first house and I started to go up with her, and she said, ‘No, Dad, you wait here and I’ll go by myself.’”
She was adventurous. Anne went skydiving with an uncle during college. And after graduating from Johns Hopkins University, she rode bikes with a group of friends from Baltimore to San Francisco to raise money for cancer research. Even on her last break from work, she traveled to Jordan to visit friends and cycle between the Dead and Red seas.
"She was not one to sit around," her father said. "She wanted to get out and do things."
Anne loved foreign policy, too, and was devoted to making the world a better place. As early as eighth grade, she said she wanted to be a diplomat. And when it came time to choosing a confirmation name, she went with Clare of Assisi because she admired the work she did with the poor.
“She loved the excitement of working on these issues," Tom Smedinghoff said. "She really felt a sense of purpose and sense of mission. She was always trying to include people or help people, and the extension of that was what she was doing in Afghanistan."
Hundreds of residents lined the streets outside of the church to show support for the family during the funeral procession. There's been an outpouring of support since her death, with many residents tying white bows around trees and planting American flags in their yards. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry visited the family.
"In the midst of the pain involved ... there is also profound pride," Undersecretary Kennedy said during the Mass. "Anne personified the service and its sacrifice. Thank God for sharing her with us as long as he did."
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