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Anne Smedinghoff, U.S. Diplomat from Illinois, killed in Afghanistan

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A young diplomat from River Forest was among five Americans killed Saturday during a car bomb blast in Afghanistan, her family said.

A sixth American was killed in a separate attack in Afghanistan’s east.

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Friends, relatives, and colleagues said goodbye Wednesday to a Chicago-area diplomat, who was killed in Southern Afghanistan.

Anne Smeginhoff, 25,  died along with four other Americans on April 6, after being hit by a suicide bomber.

Mourners braved the rain and cold to pay their final respects to the former diplomat at St. Luke Church in River Forest.

“She was always supportive of me,” said a friend.  “I had some hesitations.  And she was always about going, and getting, and achieving your goals.

I think she was a really good role model for everyone.”

Smeninghoff was an information officer at the state department and volunteered for the position in Southern Afghanistan.

That spirit of giving was echoed by those that attended the service.

“She did more than most people will do in a lifetime.  She touched more people than most will ever even know.”

On Monday Sec. of State John Kerry met privately with Smeginhoff’s family at O’Hare Airport.

Kerry had met the young diplomat just two weeks before her death while he was on a visit to the region.

Following the funeral mass, family members were expected to travel to the cemetery for a private burial.

The diplomat from the Chicago area, who was killed in Afghanistan will be laid to rest Wednesday. Anne Smedinghoff

A funeral for Anne Smedinghoff is being held at St. Luke Catholic Church in River Forest.

Family, friends, and neighbors paid their respects at her wake in Oak Park Tuesday.

Smedinghoff was walking with four other Americans when all of them were killed by a suicide bomber on April 6.

The group had gotten lost as they tried to deliver books to school children.

Smedinghoff joined the Foreign Service after college.

She volunteered to go to Afghanistan.

She was 25.

Secretary of State John Kerry is coming to Chicago today. More details released in death of young diplomat

He plans to meet with the parents of Anne Smedinghoff, the local diplomat who was killed in Afghanistan.

Smedinghoff’s funeral arrangements are now set.

Her wake is Tuesday afternoon at Drechsler, Brown, and Williams Funeral Home in Oak Park.

The funeral will be Wednesday at St. Luke church.

Secretary Kerry met Smedinghoff while in Afghanistan and called her parents after she died.

Smedinghoff was walking with four other Americans when they were all killed by a suicide bomber earlier this month.

New details were released  today in the death of a U.S. diplomat from the Chicago area.

Anne Smedinghoff and four others were killed last week while walking in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials confirmed today that the group was on foot during the bombing.

A witness says the group was lost at the time of the attack and they were trying to walk home.

It had previously been reported that they were in an armed vehicle.

Smedinghoff grew up in River Forest and attended Fenwick High School.

Students and staff of Fenwick High Schol in Oak Park took time Tuesday to proudly remember 2005 graduate Anne Smedinghoff at a special memorial Mass in the school auditorium. memorial-carousel

Smedinghoff, 25, was killed by a bomb last Saturday in Afghanistan while riding in a convoy with four other Americans to deliver books to children. Smedinghoff worked in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Anne’s older brother and sister, as well as their aunt, attended today’s memorial service.

Her former AP Spanish teacher, Irene Drago, spoke about how Anne Smedinghoff inspired her. And Fenwick administrator Dr. Gerald Lordan spoke about how Anne took her ordinary gifts and did extraordinary things with them.

Students who never met Anne said they are inspired by her legacy.

Funeral services are pending.

A memorial is being held Tuesday morning for 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff, the U.S. diplomat who was killed in Afghanistan.

Smedinghoff was with a convoy that was delivering books to children, when they were attacked by a suicide bomber.

Smedinghoff and four other Americans were killed.

Her remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base on Monday.

Her parents, who live in West Suburban River Forest, were out of town when Secretary of State John Kerry called to tell them that their daughter was dead.

The parents are expected to come back home Tuesday.

That’s when they’ll see their neighborhood decorated with ribbons and American flags, in their daughter’s honor.

Smedinghoff graduated from Fenwick High School in 2005.

She returned in December to talk to students about her work in Afghanistan.

Her former teachers and counselors are expected to speak about her at this morning’s memorial.

“She wanted to work for our government, and she wanted to travel.  And the gel that held it all together.. was that she wanted to make the world a better place,” said Fenwick Counselor Tom Egan.

“She was the example that anyone could aspire to, not just high school students,” said Smedinghoff’s former teacher Mary Beth Logas.

White ribbons and American flags line the block where Anne Smedinghoff grew up in River Forest.  Throughout the day, family friends came to show respect to the family of the 25-year-old Foreign Service worker.

‘She brightened everyone’s life. She had a zest for life.  The world is a much darker place because she is not here.”

Anne SmedinghoffSmedinghoff attended Fenwick High School and John Hopkins University.  Working as a press officer for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, she was one of five Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in southern Afghanistan Saturday while helping to deliver books to Afghan children.

Katie Whiting, a family friend, said she was in Caracas and then Kabul.  Every dangerous place she wanted to go there because that’s where the hard work was.  That’s why she wanted to go there.”

“Anne was everything that was right about our foreign service.  She was smart, committed and cared about our country.”  Secretary of State John Kerry made the call to Smedinghoff’s parents, breaking the tragic news personally.

“I had the privilege of meeting her just a few days ago when I was in Afghanistan she was part of my team and she put her life on the line so others could live a better life.”

In a statement, Anne’s parents said:

“We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world. She was such a wonderful woman–strong, intelligent, independent, and loving. Annie, you left us too soon; we love you and we’re going to miss you so much.”

A sentiment captured by those who knew her best– and those who simply knew of the girl down the street who had a bright 300×380-1future ahead of her.

Dr. Anibal Pepper said  “It’s very difficult to accept it but we have the celebrate this life.  She gave her life for her country.”

Michael Shanahan said “My prayers are with the family.. Losing a child at this age, i can’t even fathom what that’s got to be like.”

“She’s just a really beautiful and brave person,” Katie Whiting said. “Anne– the world has really lost a really good person who was going to do great things.”

(CNN) — Anne Smedinghoff lived inside a heavily secured compound.

But the public diplomacy officer for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was always pushing to get out.

“We thought she was relatively safe in the embassy compound, but as it turned out, Anne really wanted to do a lot more,” her father, Tom Smedinghoff, told CNN on Sunday.

“She was always finding projects and assignments that took her outside to the various provinces within and around Afghanistan, and that was what she wanted to do. That was what really drove her.”

He said his daughter relished the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and that she volunteered to go to Kabul because she felt there was “a lot of good she could do there.”

This weekend, the 25-year-old was trying to do just that — delivering books to a school in southern Afghanistan — when a suicide bomber smashed into her convoy Saturday. She is believed to be the first U.S. diplomat killed since the September attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Her death was a grim reminder of the risks and importance of pushing for change in “one of the toughest places on earth,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday.

It was an “extraordinary, harsh contradiction,” Kerry said, to see an attacker kill “a young, 25-year-old woman with all of the future ahead of her, believing in the possibilities of diplomacy, of changing people’s lives, of making a difference, having an impact, who was taking knowledge in books to deliver them to a school.”

Officials did not say who they believe was behind the blast. But Kerry offered a sharp condemnation of the violence as he spoke Sunday to U.S. diplomats stationed in Istanbul.

“The folks who want to kill people, and that’s all they want to do, are scared of knowledge. And they want to shut the doors and they don’t want people to make their choices about the future. For them, it’s “You do things my way and if you don’t, we’ll throw acid in your face. We’ll put a bullet in your face, to a young girl trying to learn,” Kerry said. “So this is a huge challenge for us. It is a confrontation with modernity, with possibilities, and everything that our country stands for, everything we stand for, is embodied in what Anne Smedinghoff stood for.”

Friend: 'She pushed you to be better'

Smedinghoff graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 with a degree in international relations and joined the Foreign Service soon afterward.

“I remember how excited she was when she got in and started her training. She would always talk about it, because she was one of those natural leaders,” said Christopher Louie, 26, a close friend who first met Smedinghoff in college. “When she was passionate about something, she would let everyone know. … You could just tell when she got in the Foreign Service, she saw that this was her opportunity to make a big impact on the world.”

And her enthusiasm was infectious, said Louie, a medical filmmaker in Washington who recently vacationed with Smedinghoff in Jordan.

“She always got people interested in what she was involved in. … Whenever I knew I was going to see her, I'd always make sure I was brushed up on foreign affairs. She was one of those people, you didn’t want to let her down,” he said. “She pushed you to be better.”

It was clear that “there was no better place for her” than the Foreign Service, her parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff, said in a written statement.

After a tour of duty in Caracas, Venezuela, Smedinghoff volunteered for an assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and had been working there since July, her parents said.

“We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world,” they said.

Before she joined the State Department, Smedinghoff served on the board of directors for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults 4K for Cancer program, spending a summer cycling across the United States to raise money and awareness.

“Anne was an incredibly optimistic, fearless, and giving person,” said Ryan Hanley, the program’s founder

“We mourn a life cut short,” he said Sunday, “but are blessed to have shared in it.”

Father:I think she really enjoyed the challenges

Smedinghoff’s Facebook profile gives a glimpse of her life in Afghanistan. One photo shows a group skiing in the Afghan mountains. Another shows her standing behind a lectern at the embassy, surrounded by American flags. Another, titled “Helicoptering around Helmand,” shows a smiling Smedinghoff sitting beside men in camouflage, wearing a helmet and a flak jacket.

“I think she really enjoyed the challenge. She really enjoyed the opportunity to work with the local people in the community,” her father told CNN.

He said she did a lot of public outreach work, helping to organize educational efforts in schools and working with women’s groups to promote equality.

Tom Smedinghoff spoke to on his way to Dover Air Force Base, where his daughter’s body is expected to arrive on Monday.

On Easter, her father told the Chicago Tribune, she excitedly talked about Kerry’s recent visit.

“She sounded so upbeat and so positive and so excited about all the work she’d been doing,” he said.

Kerry was emotional Sunday as he spoke of Smedinghoff’s death. He said that they met two weeks ago when he visited Afghanistan.

“I remember her — vivacious, smart, capable, chosen often by the ambassador there to be the lead person because of her capabilities,” he said.

Neighbor: She had candle power

Residents in the River Forest, Illinois, neighborhood where the Smedinghoff family lives said they were devastated by the news.

“Anne Smedinghoff was one of those rare people who, you were lucky if you were near her. She had candle power,” one neighbor told CNN affiliate WGN. “She brightened everyone’s life.”

Katie Whiting, whose sister was Smedinghoff’s best friend, told the CNN affiliate that the “beautiful and brave” diplomat was doing her dream job.

“The world has really lost somebody who was going to do a lot of good things. … Every dangerous place she wanted to go there, because that’s where the hard work was,” Whiting said.

In Smedinghoff’s memory, CNN affiliate WBBM reported, American flags lined the road near her family’s home on Sunday.

A large photograph she posted on her Facebook profile less than three weeks ago shows another road on the other side of the world, lined with Afghan flags.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

(CNN) — Two attacks in Afghanistan killed six Americans — four service members and two civilians — on Saturday as a top U.S. military official arrived to assess the country’s security, officials said.

The deadliest attack was the bombing of a military convoy delivering books to a school in southern Afghanistan’s Zabul province in which three service members, a State Department civilian and a Department of Defense civilian were killed, according to U.S. officials.

Afghan civilians also died in that incident, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Four more State Department personnel suffered injuries, one of them critically, Kerry said.

Meanwhile, another U.S. service member was killed in a separate attack, a U.S. official said.

Kerry described the killed State Department civilian as “an exceptional young foreign service officer” whom he met last week in Kabul.

The Zabul incident occurred as the Americans and Afghan civilians “were on their way to donate books to students in a school in Qalat, the province’s capital, when they were struck by this despicable attack,” Kerry said in a statement.

“I spoke this morning with our fallen foreign service officer's mother and father and offered what little comfort I can for their immeasurable loss,” Kerry said in a statement.

Information on the other killed Americans wasn’t immediately available from U.S. officials.

Meanwhile, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived at Bagram Airfield on Saturday for meetings with coalition and Afghan leaders, the Defense Department said.

Dempsey will be apprised of an ongoing military transition where Afghan security forces are taking greater control of their country.

He will meet with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, who took command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) about two months ago.

“One of the things I’m going to ask [Dunford], is … what have you learned. If he tells me “Nothing” I’m going to say, “Maybe we got the wrong guy,” Dempsey told the American Forces Press Service.

His other meetings will be with Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command; U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham; and Dempsey’s Afghan counterpart, Army Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Defense Department said.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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