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Mr. Kerry, how do you ask a woman to be the last to die in Afghanistan? (+video)

A familiar question for the US secretary of State following the death of US diplomat Anne Smedinghoff.

By Staff writer / April 7, 2013

Anne Smedinghoff, 25, was killed Saturday, in southern Afghanistan, the first American diplomat to die on the job since last year's attack on the U.S. diplomatic installation in Benghazi, Libya.

Courtesy of Tom Smedinghoff/AP

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Once again, history thrust John Kerry today in front of microphones to speak about American youths who are cut down in the waning days of an unpopular war.

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Managing Editor, Monitor Frontier Markets

Ben Arnoldy is managing editor for Monitor Frontier Markets. He has served as the Monitor's bureau chief in India and Northern California. 

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Mr. Kerry, now US secretary of State, urged Americans to “forge on” against terrorism in the wake of yesterday’s killing of Anne Smedinghoff, a 25-year-old US diplomat serving in Afghanistan. In 1971, a younger Kerry challenged Congress to stop elongating a fruitless war. He asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?”

Kerry’s famous question, posed in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came on behalf of fellow soldiers he had recently served with in Vietnam. Today’s remarks also came from a personal place: He had just met Ms. Smedinghoff when she assisted him on his visit to Afghanistan two weeks ago.

An explosion killed the Chicago native while on a mission to deliver textbooks to students in a wartorn part of southeastern Afghanistan.  Three US soldiers, a civilian Defense Department employee, and an Afghan doctor also died in the attack, which may have been aimed at the governor of the province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Associated Press.  

Kerry, speaking in Turkey, described Anne as “a selfless, idealistic young woman who woke up yesterday morning and set out to bring textbooks to schoolchildren, to bring them knowledge, children she had never met, to help them to be able to build a future.”

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