Peace Corps Deputy Director Remarks to Family and Friends at the Celebration of the Life and Service of RPCV Ambassador Chris Stevens

Marian Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) and Tino Calabia (Peru 1963-65) set up a petition on SignOn  on October 19, 2012 to rally the Peace Corps Community to ask the Peace Corps to honor RPCV and Ambassador Chris Stevens (Morocco 1983-85) at the Peace Corps Headquarters.

A month later, in mid November, the Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83) said  the agency would do so, and on May 2, 2013, in Shriver Hall an event was held by the agency. 

The Celebration of the life and Service of The Honorable J. Christopher Stevens was a simple and touching event, with short words of rememberance from former Morocco Country Director David Burgess; fellow Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Amie Bishop; Ambassador Stevens’ Father Jan Stevens; Ambassador Stevens’ Sister Hilary Stevens; and Ambassador Stevens’ Mother Mary Commanday. The special event was opened and closed with remarks from the Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.

Good Afternoon.  It’s my pleasure to welcome you here as the Peace Corps honors and celebrates the remarkable life of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet

Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet

We are sincerely honored to be joined today by so many of the people who knew and loved Chris . . . His mom and dad — Mary Commanday and Jan Stevens; his sisters – Hilary and Anne; his dear friend – Amie Bishop; and his country director in Morocco – our very own David Burgess.  We’re so pleased to have all of you here.  We are sorry that Tom and Carol could not join us, but we know they are here in spirit.

The Peace Corps really is a family – we feel strongly about our Volunteers and our Returned Volunteers – and we are returned Volunteers, not former Volunteers, because once a Volunteer, always a Volunteer.  So  Chris – and Hilary, and indeed all of you, are members of our extended Peace Corps family.  When something happens to one of us, it affects all of us.  And that is why we so passionately wanted to honor Chris here at Peace Corps.  Because he is family to us, and it is important to us to honor him as family.

Before I invite David up to begin the program, I’d like to share a brief quote from our founding director, Sargent Shriver -a quote that is so near and dear to us here at the Peace Corps . . . that we have it on the front of our building:    “Of all of our ideals, none surpasses the importance of service.”   I wanted to share this quote because it so aptly describes the life of Chris Stevens. 

Chris knew that service to others is an extraordinary act of kindness, and he knew that the benefits to service flow two ways — to both the giver and the receiver of service.  He also understood the power of strong personal relationships – relationships based on mutual respect and understanding, developed over time. 

These strong personal relationships are at the heart of every Peace Corps experience and it is these personal relationships that have the power to transform individuals and communities.  Chris understood that.  He developed strong, life-long relationships throughout the world, relationships that were critical to his effectiveness, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and later as a diplomat.

So, when we think of someone like Chris Stevens – a man who served his country in so many ways – and in so many places — one can’t help but be inspired by his commitment to service – and moved by his love for people, especially the people of the Middle East.  

[Following the brief comments by Chris’s family and Amie Bishop. Carrie spoke again, bringing the ceremony to a close.]

I again want to thank you all for being here and sharing with us …

Before we end today, I’d like to invite one more person up to the stage. Anne Stevens, Chris’s sister . . . Anne has been so helpful in making this day possible. The Peace Corps would like to present to her – and her family – this Shepard Fairey poster.

And I’d also like to bring to your attention two enduring tokens of the Peace Corps’ appreciation of Ambassador – and Volunteer – J. Christopher Stevens. 

First, this photo of Chris during his Volunteer service in Morocco with fellow English teacher and friend Abderahim Tbany will be permanently displayed just outside in History Hall . . .I’d like to thank Chris’s friend, Amie Bishop, for sharing this photo with us.

In addition, our Office of Gifts and Grants Management is working with the Stevens family on an initiative that would honor Chris and ensure his Peace Corps legacy.

We’re pleased to collaborate with them on this wonderful remembrance of their son and brother.

Thank you.  . .

Chris Stevens with his friend and fellow English teacher Abderahim Tabany

Chris Stevens with his friend and fellow English teacher Abderahim Tabany

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