By Jill Dougherty, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry
In Ankara, Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came face to face with a tragedy that scarred his first day in office: the death of a security guard at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city.
Mustafa Akarsu died in a suicide bombing at the gates to the embassy he had guarded for 20 years. On Friday, his wife, two children and their uncle sat in the sunshine on the lawn of the embassy as Kerry expressed condolences on behalf of President Barack Obama and the American people.
"That was my first day as secretary of state," he said. "When I raised my hand to take the oath of office, this tragedy was immediately on my mind and in my heart, and I have carried the memory of that courage in every embassy I have walked into since, and I will in the days ahead."
Kerry presented to the family the American flag that flew over the embassy the day Akarsu died.
When the terrorist came to the gate, he said, "Mustafa didn't hesitate for a moment. He and his fellow guards acted heroically, saving lives, with quickness and with bravery."
Recalling other guards who have been killed at other embassies, Kerry said it is a "dangerous world," but embassy staff members do "indispensable work."Sec. Kerry in Turkey
Akarsu was a dreamer, he said, who wanted his children to study in the United States. Kerry said foreign service personnel are trying to make that happen.
An online fundraising effort has brought in close to $100,000 from more than a thousand donors to help send the children to school in the U.S.
The money comes in addition to official compensation from the State Department and a small pension from the Turkish government, which declared Mustafa a "martyr."