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Coming to Terms With Changing Locations: When Travel Leads You Home

Two months ago, I moved to another city. And I still haven’t gotten over it.

This isn’t a tale of culture shock, though my old city and my new one are quite different. Nor is this a tale of hardship. My life is comfortable — more comfortable than most — and I didn’t have to flee war or famine to get to where I am now. My move was a professional and familial obligation, the kind of thing required by foreign service life.

Still I feel a void. I am caught up in a purgatory of unfinished business from my last city and the feeling of Torschlusspanik, the German word for the panic you feel when a gate is closing, the feeling that time is running out. There’s a gate (Tor) in front of and behind me and both of them are inching shut.

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Foreign Service Officers Killed in Line of Duty

The Dangers of the Foreign Service

Foreign Service Officers Killed in Line of Duty

On the few occasions that I have visited the State Department, either for interviews, to get help from the Family Liaison Office, or to visit my husband for lunch, I have felt the need to linger just inside the security gates, in the imposing, marble lobby of the Harry S. Truman building, to view the American Foreign Service Association’s Memorial Plaque.

Located on the west end of the building, the plaque lists the names of State Department personnel who have died while serving in U.S. diplomatic missions abroad. The plaque lists the officer’s name, where and when he/she died, and the nature of the diplomats’ deaths.

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