An olive tree, planted by friends and colleagues at Embassy Tripoli, beginning to bear fruit.
To share a private message with Chris's family, please send an email to RememberingChrisStevens@gmail.com.
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Chris had a passion for building bridges between the peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States. In this spirit, a fund has been established in his name to support this important, yet unfinished, endeavor.
On September 11, 2012, US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed in an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Although I did not know Chris Stevens personally, I knew of his work as a human rights activist and of his passion and love of Libya and her people from reading a Peace Corps article and following his career. I developed a huge amount of respect and admiration for Chris, so my heart dropped when I heard the news of Chris’s death and the surrounding circumstances. My first thought was about his family and loved ones and the gaping hole his death would leave in their lives. My second thought was we just lost one of the most brilliant and effective diplomats the world has ever known. My third thought was how Chris’s loss would affect Libya and Libyan-American relations and how could we keep his legacy alive.
A few days after Chris’s death the Facebook group “Libyans and Americans United for Friendship & Peace” was formed to provide a venue where Libyans and Americans and the world could mourn Chris’s the death and honor his life by encouraging the building of friendship and peace between Libyans and Americans and other countries. I joined the group because of my respect for Chris Stevens and I wanted to honor his legacy and learn more about the Libyan people he loved so much. I instantly made hundreds of new friends from around the world.
I have met and spiritually adopted five adult children since Chris’ death. Three sons and one daughter are Libyans. My fourth son is an Afghan national who served the US as a civilian interpreter for almost ten years. Many of you know my son from previous posts, but at this point in his journey to leave Afghanistan, I choose to keep his name private. My Afghan son and I have chatted for 15 months, but we have never spoken on the phone or Skyped…we have shared photos, but that recently changed.
Around 945am to 1045am, January 8, 2014 I had one of the most beautiful, joyful, emotional hours of my entire life! I finally met my lovely son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren on Skype and saw their beautiful faces and heard their melodious voices! It took me a couple of days to process the intense emotions in order to write about this experience. We spent an hour staring at each other and laughing and crying and sharing so much together. The children spoke their best English to me and the little ones said their “ABC’s” and sang adorable songs with their lovely voices and those sounds are burned into my memory forever. I have never seen so many beautiful eyes and sweet smiles in all my life and I was overcome with tears and “Alhamdulillas and thank you Gods” many times.
Although my Afghan family is Muslim, they embrace, love, and respect other religions. They did not choose to be born in Afghanistan any more than I chose to be born in America – we are world citizens first and foremost and our relationship has no cultural, religious or language barriers that keep us from loving and respecting each other. This family could be neighbors across the street, but they are family across an ocean. God’s divine synchronicity brought us together for reasons I no longer question! All I know is my life has never been the same since I met this family and my faith in God and my understanding and respect of Islam have grown beyond measure. My Afghan family lives out their faithfulness, obedience, patience, and love for God like no other people I’ve ever known.
My Afghan family faces several current hardships and obstacles. My son was in his last semester of medical school when the war broke out in 2001 and he was prevented from finishing medical school. Fortunately, he spoke English and he was opposed to the tyranny of Taliban and Al-Quada and secured a position as an interpreter for the US Army for about 10 years. In 2009, NATO and the allied countries agreed to provide special visas to the interpreters and their families so they might immigrate to the allied country they served before the allied troops pull out in 2014.
Since the day we met, my son and I have been working through various procedures in order to comply with personnel records issues between the US Army and the civilian personnel contractor who officially maintains these records. Once we accomplish that task, we will comply with additional procedures required by the Afghanistan special visa processing center and then the visa request will be forwarded to the U.S. Immigration Department for final processing and administration. In other words, this “special visa” process is not handed to these interpreters on a silver platter and the amount of patience required to deal with the red tape is mind-boggling.
May I ask for your prayers and positive thoughts and good will for my Afghan family and many other people whose similar stories are being played out all around the world? The world is in dire need of love, compassion, understanding and united faith that we can live in peace and harmony. Please consider volunteering your time to a variety of humanitarian groups that provide help in America and other countries. Salam and love to you all and let us keep Chris Stevens’ legacy alive!
Dee Mikesell Higuera
Whenever I got an email from Chris it would say, “Shelby, got any time for me?” My answer was always a quick yes. Chris was the type of player we coaches LOVE to do lessons with because he was just as good as I. So as opposed to a lesson, it would simply be he and I battling point after point. Til this day, I still dont think he ever frowned. The man wore a smile like no other and when he was on the court, I could tell he loved every minute of it as his escape from his adventurous and serious business life. I would always say, “you damn lefties.” He had a kick serve to the corner that drove me nuts especially when he followed it into the net. Gosh, I miss that guy. Special man. If any of his friends or family are in the DC area and you play, please contact me. No charge, Just a hit and talk in Chris’ honor. Peace and may he rest in peace.
Ambassador Stevens was everything we hope for in an Ambassador of the United States. His goals, as you have described, are the highest form of love and understanding. He did not touch my life directly, but because of who he was, I am a member of a group on Facebook founded in his memory called Libyans and Americans United of Peace and Friendship. His memory is very alive in this group and his purposes are being acted on every day. Thanks Chris Stevens.
One year after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, UC Berkeley announced a gift from the friends and family of the late diplomat that establishes an endowed fund at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies to see his work continue in future generations of students at his alma mater.
KPIX 5 Mornings anchor Frank Mallicoat remembers his fraternity brother Chris Stevens with two of the ambassador’s friends.
Everybody over the age of about 15 years old can tell you what they were doing 12 years ago this morning. September 11, 2001 is seared into our hearts and minds. It changed our country and it changed us.
Last year there was another September 11 attack killing 4 Americans, but this time it happened in Benghazi, not New York and Washington DC and in the skies over Pennsylvania. There are far fewer of us who remember that day as clearly as we do 2001. But I am one of them because one of those four Americans was our friend Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens…
September 11 will always be a difficult day for our family. However, we remain firm in our commitment to looking forward. We have been bolstered by each of you – friends, family, and many more whom we have never had the opportunity to meet. Your strength, your support, your funny stories, and your enthusiasm to change the world have inspired us.
We are touched and grateful.
One year ago this week, in response to a tremendous outpouring of support from around the world, we launched the J. Christopher Stevens Fund. The mission of the Fund is to support activities that build bridges between the people of the United States and those of the broader Middle East. This was the mission to which Chris dedicated his life.
We are grateful for each contribution received – from friends and family, from the Government of Libya, and from people near and far moved by Chris and his story.
In the coming weeks and months, we will launch a number of innovative programs and initiatives. The focus of our activity is on young people, both here in America and across the Middle East and North Africa.
Chris served in the Peace Corps in Morocco, and his death was felt acutely by the Peace Corps family. Last year, in response to numerous queries from returned Peace Corps Volunteers during Peace Corps Week, we encouraged returned volunteers to fan out across America and speak with youth about their experiences abroad. We are now working with the Peace Corps to expand their reach into schools and communities across this country.
Today the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where Chris studied as an undergraduate, announces the Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Memorial Fund for Middle Eastern Studies, endowed by the J. Christopher Stevens Fund. Our purpose is to encourage and inspire students in Middle Eastern and North African scholarship.
Later this fall, together with a coalition of public and private partners, we will launch the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative. This initiative will embrace the power of technology to fuel the largest ever increase in people-to-people exchanges between the United States and the broader Middle East, vastly increasing the number and diversity of youth who have a meaningful cross-cultural experience as part of their formative education, and reaching over one million youth by 2020.
Tonight in Piedmont, CA, where Chris spent his teen years, the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education will vote to name the Piedmont High library the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Library. Chris was inspired by the Piedmont High School motto “Achieve the Honorable”.
Later this year, the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, from which Chris graduated in 1989, will host the Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Symposium. The event will emphasize law and public policy as used in practice to advance global understanding and peace, principles to which Chris was committed.
There have been more awards bestowed, and honors given, in Chris’ memory than we could have ever thought possible. But as we’ve said before, we have received letters from thousands of people all over the world who were touched by Chris’ example. His openness touched a chord in their hearts.
Chris would have wanted to be remembered for that.
The Family of Chris Stevens
On the one-year anniversary of his death in Benghazi, Libya, the school board in slain Ambassador Chris Stevens’ hometown plans to name his old high school library after him.