The U.S. government’s support for NATO and United Nations Security Council actions in Libya in March 2011 most likely saved many thousands of innocent lives in Libya. It is tragic that one of the diplomats at the forefront of these decisive actions has lost his own life in the city he did so much to save.

The next few days will likely see many long testimonials to the life and service of Ambassador Chris Stevens. I had the great pleasure of knowing Chris as a fellow junior foreign service officer in the early 1990s when he was just getting his start as a diplomat.  He worked hard and played hard, and brought everyone into his circle of friends with his enthusiasm and openness of spirit. I left the Foreign Service to dedicate my career to human rights advocacy; Chris went on to become the kind of diplomat that represents the absolute best of our country.

Chris Stevens took on a role in service to our country that few of us would have had the courage to fill. He understood the importance of that role to the citizens of other countries in which he served, and displayed the best possible embodiment of that role in Libya. He served the United States by promoting our country’s interest in stopping mass atrocities, protecting human rights, and defending Libya’s tentative steps toward a representative government. Few of us ever achieve so much.

Many of us will mourn Chris. I hope many more, who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him, will now remember Chris, and will find inspiration in his courage and achievements.

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