America's decade of distant and dubious wars finally came home this week with the death of River Forest's Anne Smedinghoff. Just 25, already in the U.S. Foreign Service, she was killed Saturday in southern Afghanistan when her vehicle was struck by a bomb believed to have been part of a Taliban attack.
Smedinghoff and her colleagues were delivering books to a local school at the moment she was killed. This, then, is the fury and it is the worry of a war now more than a decade long that seeks, among other goals, some sort of nation-building in a country resistant and suspicious of the effort.
Smedinghoff's death is one of honor and purpose because she chose her path with intention, with a goal, her dad wrote, "of making a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war." A graduate of Fenwick, Smedinghoff joined the State Department directly after earning her International Relations degree at Johns Hopkins. Just two weeks ago, Smedinghoff had worked with Secretary of State John Kerry when he was in Afghanistan. Kerry called the family Saturday to report her death.
The truth is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are far from the daily lives and thoughts of most of us here in Oak Park and River Forest. In that we are like most other untouched communities across the nation. Still in just six months we have now reported the deaths of two fine and dedicated young people. Today Anne Smedinghoff. In October it was the suicide of Afghan veteran Lee Atkins.
We remember them with profound respect.