R.I.P.: Celebrating Ambassador Mark Palmer

No one taught me more about the responsibility ambassadors carry. No one has explained to me in clearer terms that, if your choice is between pleasing your headquarters or sticking to your inner compass, you must always choose the latter. He told me:

You serve with your mind and your heart and a healthy mix is what matters. That will make you a good ambassador.

Wrote Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and a common friend and disciple of Mark:

Mark taught me to think strategically, but to always keep American values front and center. As we grapple with new challenges in Europe's East and the wider neighborhood, Mark’s example will always be a source of inspiration and a reminder of the power of ideas.

A few years ago, I told Mark that as an ambassador I had one and only one role model. "It's you, Mark!" He was honored, he said, but in his usual modest way added:

Please don't exaggerate my role, You Hungarians did the heavy lifting.

Hungary and the United States will miss him.