Foreign Affairs Day is celebrated every year on the first Friday in May. This year, on May 4, 2018, the Foreign Service community gathered in the Department of State to discuss the state of foreign affairs with other professionals and interact with the various organizations that serve our Foreign Service community. From early in the morning, many of our AAFSW members had volunteered their time to help with our AAFSW desk and distribute information regarding all that AAFSW offers to our members. Our gratitude and special thanks go to the AAFSW volunteers: Barbara Reioux, Martine Napkil, Lucy Whitley, Sheila Switzer, Anne Kauzlarich, Anna Dworken, Mette Beecroft, Elaine Neumann, and AAFSW President Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD, for volunteering their time to help out throughout the day and for participating in the lively discussions and informative sessions.
Many of the AAFSW members as well as AAFSW President Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD, attended the welcoming remarks and introduction by Deputy Under Secretary for Management William Todd, the Foreign Service Cup Award Ceremony, as well as the Plenary Question-Answer Session offered by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon. Later, many of our AAFSW members, including AAFSW President Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD, attended the Foreign Affairs Day luncheon, which took place at the Benjamin Franklin Room. Deputy Under Secretary for Management William Todd presented the Director General’s Cup for the Civil Service to Richard Greene and the Director General’s Cup for the Foreign Service to Kristie Kenney. The luncheon concluded with the keynote remarks by Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert.
The Foreign Affairs Day is also dedicated to those members in the Foreign Service community who have lost their lives while serving abroad. Thus, the most important part of each year’s Foreign Affairs Day is the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Memorial Ceremony at the west side of the C Street Lobby. During this year’s Memorial Ceremony, in the presence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, AFSA President Barbara Stephenson, and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard” Wreath Bearer placed the AFSA Wreath in front of AFSA’s Memorial Plaque, where the names of over 250 fallen members of the Foreign Service have been etched. While the U.S. Air Force Band Harpist played solemn music in the background, Secretary of State Pompeo, AFSA President Stephenson, and Under Secretary Shannon gave moving dedication speeches during this year’s AFSA Memorial Ceremony honoring Michael Andrew Cameron (Andy) Jordan and Selena Nelson-Salcedo, before the U.S. Military District of Washington Armed Forces Color Guard retired the Colors.
As an all-volunteer, non-profit, non-governmental DOS Employee organization, which supports the Foreign Service families, the backbone of the Department of State, AAFSW had successfully lobbied in the past to get a plaque placed on the east side of the C Street Entrance-Lobby, commemorating the EFMs who have lost their lives while being overseas (deaths not attributed to natural causes). This year, our joint AFSA-AAFSW wreath was placed by this plaque at 7:00 a.m. and “stood” there during the entire Foreign Affairs Day. In addition, etched on yet another plaque commemorating their memory are the names of the Foreign Service family members who lost their lives abroad due to terrorism.
Secretary of State Pompeo concluded this year’s Foreign Affairs Day and deeply honored the Foreign Service family members fallen abroad by spending some time together with the AAFSW members present and AAFSW President Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD, next to the EFM-dedicated plaque which reads: “In Memory of our Foreign Service Family Members who have died abroad.” The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) and its President, Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, are very appreciative of this special time for reflection with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. If possible, AAFSW would like to establish this great honor as a new annual tradition for AAFSW on Foreign Affairs Day for the years to come.
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD
More photos, by Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD AAFSW President: