Memorial Wall Publication
Who Receives a Star?
“The Americans commemorated by these stars came from all walks of life. They heard the call to duty and chose to serve in an agency unlike any other. Quiet patriotism was their hallmark. They would advance freedom and build a better world, not for public acclaim, but because it is the right thing to do.”
—Director Michael V. Hayden
The stars carved in marble in CIA’s Headquarters Lobby are a simple, silent memorial to employees who have died in the line of duty. The inscription above the stars reads, “In honor of those members of the Central Intelligence Agency who gave their lives in the service of their country.” Those remembered with stars performed every aspect of the Agency’s mission, from covert action and collection to analysis, support and technical capabilities. They came from every Directorate, either as staff officers or contractors. They served in every corner of the world, many of them in war zones and other places of great danger. They worked against every national security challenge faced by the United States since CIA’s founding in 1947. The men and women came from a variety of backgrounds reflecting America’s rich diversity. While many had years of service, others were young; the youngest was 21 at the time of her death.
Not every fallen employee receives a star. The CIA’s Honor and Merit Awards Board will recommend that the CIA Director approve a star if the nomination meets specific and current criteria:
- Death may occur in the foreign field or in the United States.
- Death must be of an inspirational or heroic character while in the performance of duty; or
- as the result of an act of terrorism while in the performance of duty; or
- as an act of premeditated violence targeted against an employee, motivated solely by that employee’s Agency affiliation; or
- in the performance of duty while serving in areas of hostilities or other exceptionally hazardous conditions where the death is a direct result of such hostilities or hazards.
Once the Director endorses a nomination, the Office of Protocol arranges placement of the star on the Memorial Wall.