George P. Shultz

Memorial Remarks for J. Christopher Stevens

delivered October 2012, San Francisco, California


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Members of Christopher Stevens' family, ladies and gentlemen:

Let me first thank Chris Stevens' brother and sisters for their warm and delightful insights into what he was really like. Thank you so much. That was fantastic that you did it for us.

Christopher Stevens was obviously an extraordinary human being and contributor. Every year, down at Stanford, we have a group of -- we call them national security fellows -- come, and they're roughly at the colonel level from Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and State Department. And a couple weeks ago, we had a meeting and the first person that I called on was an army colonel. And I said "Where were you last?" And he said "In Libya."  I said, "Did you know Christopher Stevens?" He said  everybody knew Christopher Stevens. "He was our leader. He was fluent in Arabic.  He was constructive. He was positive. He was doing something. He was our leader." The spontaneous practically erupt[ed] from him.

He was a Foreign Service officer. And anybody who has served with the Foreign Service as I did with -- as Secretary of State, knows what a very special group of people this is. They're very able people, dedicated; they work hard for our country. And Christopher Stevens, obviously in an extraordinary group, was extraordinary. He stood out.

I thought to myself what image could I think of that might my express our way of thinking about him. And I thought of the Great Seal of our Republic. I donít know how many of you have ever looked carefully at it. The center of it is an eagle. And in one talon, the eagle is holding an olive branch. The eagle is looking at the olive branch to show that the United States will always seek peace. In the other talon, the eagle is holding arrows to show that the United States understands that if you're going to be effective and successful in seeking peace, you must be strong.

Now, let me expand on that image. Because it isn't only peace that we seek:

We seek a better humankind;

We seek the elimination of poverty;

We seek better lives all over the world for ourselves and other people.

And the arrows don't stand just for military strength. They stand for capability; they stand for the idea that the United States will try to recruit the best and most capable to apply themselves to those grand objectives. And as I have studied and thought about and learned about the life of Christopher Stevens, he embodied that capability and he sought those grand objectives that our democracy stands for.

We gather here to mourn his loss and to demonstrate to his family how much we understand their grief. But we also gather to celebrate the immense accomplishments that this man has made for us.

I picked out of my closet this morning a tie that says on it, "Democracy is not a spectator sport."  So Christopher Stevens was a participant -- a full, strong, effective participant in his beloved democracy.

Chris, thank you.

See Also: Chris Stephens Remembrance Website and UC Berkeley J. Christopher Stevens Program for Middle Eastern Studies 

Audio Note: AR-XE = American Rhetoric Extreme Enhancement

Page Updated: 9/30/22

U.S Copyright Status: Text and Audio = Uncertain. Image of the Great Seal = Public domain. Image of Mr. Shultz = Fair Use.
























Top 100 American Speeches

Online Speech Bank

Movie Speeches

© Copyright 2001-Present. 
American Rhetoric.