John Kerry visits Smedinghoff family


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The family of Anne Smedinghoff, the young diplomat killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, received a personal visit from Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.

Tom Smedinghoff, who addressed the media Monday evening with other family members, said the private visit gave the family comfort as they learned more about Anne's interaction with Kerry during his recent visit to Kabul. The family also had the chance to share more about their daughter and sister with the Secretary.

"We just got back from a wonderful and really heart-warming visit with Secretary Kerry," Tom Smedinghoff said. "It was a very personal visit, and for us it was very comforting and consoling. He again expressed his personal condolences to us for the loss of Anne and talked quite a bit about Anne's work and her service," Smedinghoff said Kerry and many others from the Department of Foreign Services have reached out and stayed in touch with the family.

"It really reinforces for us that Anne was part of a very close-knit family. It meant a lot to us to have the opportunity to visit personally with the Secretary to hear his personal recollections with Anne on his recent visit in Kabul and to tell him a little bit more about who Anne was and what she did and what she was like," he continued. "Finally, we also want to continue to remember those others who were killed and injured in that attack and continue to keep them and their families in our thoughts and our prayers."

Kerry's visit comes nine days after he called to break the news that Anne had been killed in a suspected terrorist attack in Afghanistan. He had just returned from a 10-day overseas tour. Kerry has spoken multiple times about the incident, and spoke of Anne in a recent news briefing in Istanbul.

"In everything that our country stands for — everything we stand for is embodied in what Anne Smedinghoff stood for," Kerry said.

Smedinghoff, 25, was killed April 6 during a volunteer assignment in Afghanistan, where she was an assistant information officer. She was delivering books to a local school with a group when they were caught up in a roadside bombing.

The family has received an flood of national attention and has set up a website to provide updated information about charities.

"The Smedinghoff family has been touched by the outpouring of support from people around the world looking for ways to help continue Anne's work," a statement on the website reads. "In lieu of sending flowers, we ask that you consider supporting organizations that are engaged in the same great work that Anne dedicated herself to so selflessly." Read more about the organizations at:

Organizations to donate to include:

  • Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund: To aid young Afghan women who seek a college education in the U.S. —
  • Help the Afghan Children: Dedicated to improving the lives of children in Afghanistan through quality education and helping them become educated, healthy, productive citizens —
  • SOLA, Afghanistan (School of Leadership, Afghanistan): Dedicated to furthering education and leadership opportunities in Afghanistan and the world for the new generation, especially women —

A wake was held Tuesday at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St. in Oak Park. The funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Luke Church, 528 Lathrop Ave. in River Forest, followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Violet C from River Forest  

Posted: April 15th, 2013 8:00 PM

My heart goes out to Ann's family and friends as they will miss a loved one and the country will miss a hero. May God bless you all. May God bless United States of America.

RF rez  

Posted: April 15th, 2013 7:52 PM

"Race," you must not live in RF if you ask that question. This, like many towns, is one in which residents truly care about and support one another, regardless of race, religion, etc.

To: race  

Posted: April 15th, 2013 7:50 PM

Shame on you!! Not the time for such ridiculousnessz!


Posted: April 15th, 2013 7:09 PM

Sheer grace. Peace to you all!

Speak truth to stupidity from River Forest  

Posted: April 15th, 2013 7:02 PM

The simple answer is yes.


Posted: April 15th, 2013 5:29 PM

Would River Forest show as much support if the victim was a Muslim and a minority?

Timothy Ryan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2013 3:00 PM

Thought and prayers to the Smedinghoff family. I hope the community gives them space to grieve while also giving them the support they need. I've never been a fan of John Kerry, but his visit is a classy gesture, and the right thing for him to do.


Posted: April 15th, 2013 2:51 PM

God bless this family as there is no greater loss than that of your child.

Peter Saltzman  

Posted: April 15th, 2013 1:40 PM

Good for Secretary Kerry. This shows a great deal of class on his part.

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