Published September 14, 2012
The remains of the four Americans who were killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in eastern Libya were returned Friday, in a solemn ceremony at Joint Base Andrews.
President Obama, along with several top officials and dozens of State Department employees, attended the ceremony and honored the victims. Among the dead are U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the first U.S. ambassador killed in an attack in more than 30 years. Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer, and two former Navy SEALs were also killed in the strike.
"Four Americans, four patriots. They loved this country. They chose to serve it, and served it well," Obama said. He closed: "Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. We will bring to justice those who took them from us. ... The flag they served under now carries them home. God bless the memory of these men who laid down their lives for us all."
After he spoke, the four flag-draped coffins -- which had earlier been carried into the hangar -- were loaded into four hearses. The hearses drove away as the band played a rendition of "America the Beautiful."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered personal tributes for all four men. She described them as "Americans who gave their lives for our country and our values."
Stevens, she said, "won friends for the United States in far-flung places" and "made those peoples' hopes his own." Clinton recalled his "sense of fun and that California cool."
Clinton went on to condemn the "awful Internet video" that has been cited as a cause of demonstrations against U.S. diplomatic posts -- though some say the video was merely a cover for a coordinated strike in Benghazi.
Clinton, though, said "responsible leaders" must restore security and hold attackers accountable for ongoing demonstrations and attacks.
"The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob," she said.
The State Department identified the two former SEALs for the first time Thursday night -- as 41-year-old Tyrone Woods and 42-year-old Glen Doherty, both decorated veterans.
"Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest gratitude are with their families and friends," Clinton said in a statement. "Our embassies could not carry on our critical work around the world without the service and sacrifice of brave people like Tyrone and Glen."
Clinton, along with Vice President Biden and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, attended the ceremony at Joint Base Andrews Friday.
The president met with families before the remains were returned Friday afternoon.