Yesterday was a poignant time for all of us serving in Ankara. Upon arrival in Turkey, Secretary Kerry participated in a memorial service for Mustafa Akarsu, an embassy guard killed in a suicide bombing attack one month earlier. Together with Akarsu's widow Yasemin and children Sami and Hilal, Kerry viewed a monument in Mustafa's memory. The monument includes a fountain to signify the meaning of the family surname -- which means "flowing water" -- and a newly planted tree chosen by Mustafa's children.
In his remarks to the assembled embassy community, Kerry praised the dedication of embassy staffers around the world. Of Akarsu's sacrifice, he said:
"As you know, the day Mustafa gave his life for this embassy and those of you who were inside it -- that was my first day as Secretary of State. When I raised my hand to take the oath of office, this tragedy was on my mind ad in my heart. And every day for the past four weeks, I have carried the memory of Mustafa's courage and sacrifice with me. It reminds me that we work in a dangerous world, but that our work is indispensible."
Kerry presented the Thomas Jefferson Star medals to Akarsu's widow, in recognition of Mustafa's heroism in protecting the embassy when it was under attack. "His sacrifice will not be forgotten," read the award citation. The U.S. Embassy's Marine Detachment Commander also presented Mrs. Akarsu with the flag that was flying over the embassy on the day Mustafa was killed.
The Secretary also honored two guards, Tunca Avcı and Şefik Soylu, who were on duty with Mustafa on February 1. They were given heroism awards for their quick actions to secure the bombing area and rescue an injured local journalist.
Yesterday, we remembered a colleague and a friend. We hope to honor his life through our work in the days, and weeks, and years to come.