Having recently added 12 stars to its Memorial Wall to commemorate the lives of 102 Americans lost in service to their country, the CIA yesterday paid tribute to those men and women who died in the line of duty.
“No matter when or where they served, or whether their names are known to the world or only to us, each cherished colleague remains a constant source of inspiration and courage,” Director Leon E. Panetta said standing before the wall in the lobby of CIA Headquarters. “We take strength from their powerful example as we carry on their vital work and the vital work of this agency.”
Seven of the 12 recently added stars honor those killed last December in eastern Afghanistan. Five of the new stars commemorate agents who were involved in clandestine assignments, and continuing operational sensitivities require the details of their work remain classified.
“Every day, throughout the world, the CIA is answering that call as a sacred commitment,” Panetta said. “It is a mission without break. It is a mission without pause – one that must, and will, end in victory over hatred, ignorance and oppression. That triumph, when it comes – and it will come – will be the product of the many who draw strength from the seven who died at Khost.”
Speaking of all of those whose lives have been taken while working with CIA, Panetta said:
“They remind us, as do the losses suffered by our brothers and sisters in uniform, that our nation’s liberty and security is not free. It must be fought for by every generation. Their stories reaffirm that America is blessed with brave and selfless patriots who are willing to put their lives on the line, who are willing to shoulder that great responsibility.”
Hundreds of employees, former officers, and family members and friends of those who have died in service with CIA attend the memorial ceremony each year.