United States flag and pole

A Symbol and an Inspiration

A Symbol and an Inspiration 640 386

This flag graced the office of Colonel Ron Roughead, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Kenya, at U.S. Embassy Nairobi. On August 7, 1998, in coordinated attacks by al Qaeda terrorists, U.S. Embassies Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were devastated by car bombs. Embassy Nairobi and the surrounding neighborhood suffered extensive damage and loss of life.

After the attack, the Embassy Nairobi Marine Security Guards made an initial sweep of the embassy building searching for survivors and recovering victims. The Marines found this flag in Colonel Roughead’s office along with a roll of masking tape. Knowing that the flag on the pole outside the entrance to the Embassy had been blown off by the blast, they taped this flag to the exterior window frame. During the initial days after the attack, it was a symbol that the U.S. embassy and the personnel were still standing proudly even though they had been hit very hard.

Colonel Roughead kept the flag exactly as it was when it was taken down, including the masking tape. He displayed the flag outside his home on every anniversary of the bombing, as well as every Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and 4th of July. In donating this flag to the Diplomacy Center, he expressed his hope that it gives inspiration to our nation’s diplomats and military serving on the front lines.