East Bay News

Piedmont High honors Ambassador Chris Stevens

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Piedmont High Schools library Ambassador Christopher Stevens high school photo

September 11th not only marks the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, but also the one-year anniversary of an attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed including Ambassador J. Chris Stevens.

Stevens was a 1978 graduate of Piedmont High. He was editor of the school paper and active in the school's Model United Nations club. His brother and mother still live in the East Bay.

"We're really using this as an educational experience for our students," said Randall Booker with the Piedmont Unified School District. "It's something to do at a board meeting, but I think more importantly, it's what we're doing here at Piedmont High School, continuing on. We're going to honor him at halftime at one of our football games. And then also on Constitution Day, we have a series of curriculum going on at Piedmont High School to honor him and his work."

Stevens' stepfather, Robert Commanday, told ABC7 News Wednesday, "What he stood for and what he represented is supported by the memorials and tributes paid to him, by people all around the world. He became a hero and we're very proud of him."

Wednesday night the board of education rededicated the Piedmont High School library in his name. His mother, step-father, brother, and young nieces were there.

"Many thanks from Chris's family and classmates for honoring him in this especially appropriate way," said Mary Commanday, Stevens' mother.

His mother says he really was inspired by an inscription in the library reading "achieve the honorable."

"I think he'd feel honored, don't you? But you know, he'd rather be alive," said Mary. She says she never pointed him in the direction of the diplomatic service. "All I wanted was for my children to take piano lessons, learn to type, and be confirmed in the church. The rest, they did what they did."

There was a storm of controversy, mired in politics, after his death. Stevens' family wants nothing to do with it.

"He wasn't political, he was nonpartisan and never discussed political issues. So I think if he were alive today he would be aghast at the political discussions that followed his death," said Robert.

In piedmont and beyond, Stevens will be remembered as a hero.

The UC Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies also announced that they have received a gift from Stevens' friends and family -- a fund that will support student research and travel to North Africa and the Middle East.

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piedmont, berkeley, afghanistan, uc berkeley, terrorism, east bay news
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