By Chanh Nguyen and Robyn Lin-Justiniano
The idea was a simple one. Anyone from the U.S. Embassy community who walked a lap around the Addis Ababa compound could plant a small American flag on the front lawn with a goal of displaying 911 flags in remembrance of the tragic events of 9/11. This included eligible family members—children, parents and grandparents—and mission employees who would walk in honor of the victims of that tragic day. Organized by the Management Office and the Regional Security Office, more than 911 laps were completed as evidenced by all of the red, white and blue planted across the embassy lawn.
On the morning of September 11, the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Mary Beth Leonard spoke in a somber, rainy ceremony outside the chancery building, “The terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C., and in Pennsylvania, affected the entire world. Through it all, the people of Ethiopia, and our allies and friends across the continent, have stood with us.”
Leonard recognized that at least two Ethiopians fell victim to the terror attacks that day, “We honor the sacrifices of the many people whose lives were impacted that day, and we appreciate the continued support of the people of Ethiopia and from across the African continent, all such important partners in the global fight against terrorism.”
Leonard recalled that at the time of the attacks, the Organization of African Unity was on the verge of transforming itself into the African Union (AU). Collective peace and security, including countering both terrorism and violent extremism are among the AU’s prominent goals and remains a focus of joint U.S. and African efforts.
Leonard, Charge d’Affaires of the Bilateral Mission David Renz, the Management Office, the Regional Security Office, heads and members of the many other agencies and sections of the embassy, local Ethiopian staffers, along with all other attendees of the ceremony concluded the event by joining together to walk a final lap around the compound.
Chanh Nguyen is a management counselor and Robyn Lin-Justiniano is an eligible family member at Embassy Addis Ababa.