Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today [January 26] paid tribute to members of the State Department family killed in the earthquake in Haiti. Speaking to State Department and USAID staff at a town hall meeting, the Secretary honored the memories of Victoria DeLong, a Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, and the family of Andrew Wyllie, a decorated State Department officer working for the United Nations in Haiti. He lost his wife Laurence and his two young sons Evan and Baptiste in the disaster. A transcript of her remarks follows:
"I thank all of you from throughout the Department, our colleagues from AID who have been working literally around the clock since January 12th. The needs are overwhelming. We are trying to meet the humanitarian needs in this period, while at the same time working with the Haitian Government, the UN, and other countries and organizations to plan for the longer term. When I spoke to family members who had lost loved ones – Victoria DeLong – and then I spoke with Andrew Wyllie – they both thanked me as Secretary for the outpouring of support that they had received from colleagues. In Victoria’s case, from people who had served with her, who knew her, who had reached out to the family, who had really demonstrated the closeness of community that exists among us. And for Andrew Wyllie, who inconceivably, unimaginably lost his wife on her birthday and his seven-and-a-half and five-year-old children, he mentioned specifically the names of those who had been working with him in these very difficult days to recover the bodies of his wife and children. And again, the sense that it was not even just a community, but a large and extended family came through in everything he said to me. That certainly is the way I feel after a year here, working with many of you, but of course, many, many more with whom I do not work on a daily or a weekly basis, but who I know are toiling in offices and posts and missions and projects across the world on behalf of our country, our values, our interests, our security, to build that better future that we think every person deserves and to create the opportunity for every child to live up to his or her God-given potential."
I understand that several members of the embassy's locally engaged staff in Haiti were also killed or injured, but so far I've seen no reliable numbers. A co-worker who is helping with the recovery effort tells me that almost half of the LES are not currently at the embassy, which is an ominous sign.