Flags and ribbons fluttered in the Monday breeze in River Forest as the body of a young diplomat killed in a terrorist attack in southern Afghanistan over the weekend returned to the United States.
Anne Smedinghoff's remains arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in a dignified transfer ceremony. The 25-year-old was one of five Americans killed Saturday in a suicide car bombing as they delivered textbooks to school children. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Neighborhood churches held book drives and offered white ribbons on Monday in her memory.
"I thought, 'Well, let's just carry on her mission by having people donate the books,' and we'll make sure they go to non-profits that have the same vision and passion that she had," said Margaret Brown with St. Luke's Church.
Smedinghoff's father spoke with The Associated Press on Sunday and said his daughter died doing what she loved. Those sentiments were echoed Monday by others who knew her.
"She was telling how much she loved her job. She just lit up every time she talked about it," said friend and neighbor Sandi Graves. "She was talking about when she was coming home and what she was doing next."
As family and friends work to come to grips with Smedinghoff's death, state leaders were publicly mourning River Forest's loss.
"What a loss of her wonderful service to our country and her beautiful life, at this point, should be a reminder of the heroic sacrifices made by men and women everyday to keep us safe," said Sen. Dick Durbin.