Sunday, February 24, 2013

Memorial breakfast honors Chris Stevens

by Kelsey Mejlaender, Copy Editor

When journalist and author Robin Wright rose to give a speech about Ambassador Chris Stevens during a private memorial breakfast at the Gonyea House, her listeners included Stevens’ family and friends. 

Pacific Lutheran University invited Wright, a longtime friend of Stevens, to give a memorial lecture Thursday about Stevens, the Benghazi attack, and a book she’d written, “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion in the Middle East.” 

Before the event, however, Wright and Stevens’ family were guests of honor at PLU’s President Thomas Krise’s residence. 

Rev. Nancy Connor, university pastor, began and ended the breakfast with prayers. After Krise introduced her, Wright stood before the collection of faculty and Stevens’ family to speak of the fallen ambassador.

Tears punctuated the start of her speech, but she centered her talk around the positive, detailing many funny stories about Stevens. “Everyone has a story about Chris,” she said.

Wright shared that one time, an intelligence agent of Muammar Gaddafi was tailing Stevens while the ambassador was out walking in Libya. Stevens, who had noticed the man, took the camera from him and snapped a picture of him, before returning it with a smile. “He was both charming and disarming, and that was the point,” Wright said.

She described Stevens as “gregarious,” and said he seemed younger than he was. Stevens, Wright said, was “the ultimate diplomat,” because he recognized not “what was convenient, but what was true.”

Even in a place called “the armpit of the earth,” Stevens persevered, and was well respected by Libyans, she said.

He spoke Arabic, and socialized with everyone, Wright said, from the elite to those on the streets.

After her speech, Anne Stevens — the ambassador’s sister — spoke about her brother. 

President Krise then presented Wright with a plaque, an honor that would be formally presented later following her public speech in Lagerquist Concert Hall. The plaque had PLU’s rose window and a quote said by President Barack Obama about Wright.
PLU, according to the Wang Center’s website, hosted the public memorial lecture to celebrate the life of Stevens and provide the community with further knowledge of the Middle East and North Africa.