This story first appeared on NPR.com on September 12, 2012

Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a very special diplomat. He made a career of going to difficult places and insisting that he witness tumultuous events firsthand.

His death is filled with bitter ironies. He spent much of his professional life in North Africa and loved being in Libya at such a crucial moment in the nation's history. He died on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which led to ramped up security at U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide.

U.S. diplomats today often seem to be captives of their embassies. Many live and work behind high walls in fortified compounds, guarded by U.S. Marines who are often reinforced by a local security force. They venture out less and less, and the death of Stevens and three other Americans will only amplify this trend.

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