UNITED NATIONS. IN MEMORIAM

 

1 SEPTEMBER 2013

IN MEMORIAM

This year, feelings were mixed.

Remembering our fallen colleagues was painful yet necessary -- for them and for us. It was important to remind everyone, including those transient newcomers in transitional power, that U.N. staff gave the ultimate sacrifice in performing their functions. It also could be a wake-up call about the need to better prepare and protect devoted staff as they are placed in harm's way. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon looked earnestly moved by the events that happened before his watch. Yet Staff Representatives, as well as those speaking on behalf of bereaved families and surviving staff respectfully yet clearly raised the need for better care. Perhaps such occasions could prod all sides to realize that they are all in it together. The staff needs the Secretary General. Also, the Secretary General needs them.

Ten years after the terrorist explosion of U.N.'s Baghdad Offices, a memoriam ceremony was held at U.N. Headquarters in New York. Many families of our departed loved ones attended, graciously holding their pain as a wreath was laid at the Secretariat entrance and names were read at the ceremony that followed.

After a welcome by the Master of Ceremonies Mr. Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary General for Management, there was a candle lighting by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a representative of the General Assembly, and Mrs. Maria Cristina Perceval, President of the Security Council. Ban Ki-moon's remarks were followed by a minute of silence, and then Mrs. Perceval spoke.

The names of the 22 victims of the U.N. Canal Hotel bombing who lost their lives on 19 August 2003, and the 30 United Nations personnel who lost their lives whilst serving the Organization from 1 September 2012 to 30 June 2013 was read by the baritone voice of Mr. Ahmad Fawzi (former United Nations Spokesperson and Director, Department of Public Information).

"A Tribute to the Team," a short documentary remembering the victims of the 19 August 2003 terrorist attack on the U.N. Baghdad was screened. Mr. Jason Pronyk, staff member and injured survivor of the U.N. Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad, spoke on behalf of the survivors of the U.N. Canal Hotel bombing and Ms. Laura Dolci-Kanaan spoke on behalf of the families.

Mr. Ian Richards, Vice President of the Staff Management Committee, spoke on behalf of the staff and the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Takasu, delivered final remarks. The ceremony concluded as the U.N. Singers chanted "A Parting Blessing."