Not every hero dies in uniform

Today is Memorial Day in America.

Spies on Memoral Day
Spybrary remembers all those who fell in silence whilst fighting for our freedom.

Most of us will take a moment to think about those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. Memorial Day got me thinking though, what about our brave men and women in the clandestine services? Shouldn't we spare a moment to think about them as well? So this Memorial Day, and every one from this year on, when you hoist the American flag on the wooden flag pole in your front yard, do so as you think about those brave souls who stepped onto enemy territory to fight a war without weapons.

Spying has always been about the shadows, the secrecy, the silent world. No fanfare, no fuss. Yet that does not mean we should not remember them. Many of these men and women chose to work for a service that needed them to be anonymous. How many times have we heard from kids of spies who had no idea what their mother of father did? I recently read in Jeremy Duns' Codename Hero that the daughter of MI6's Moscow Head of Station, Ruari Chisholm confronted her father when she found a passport at home. It was her Dad's photo but with a different name.

Remembering spies on Memorial Day
Remembering spies on Memorial Day

So when even the immediate families of spies have no idea of their parent's career then there is no surprise there is not a public national day of remembrance. While they are unlikely to be able to find out much about their relative's spy activity, they may still be able to uncover some details of their personal lives and that of their ancestors with the use of the vast archives and resources available on the Genealogy Bank website. This way they will be able to honor their fallen family member by creating a better understanding of their background and lineage so that their life won't become completely overwhelmed by the mystery of their occupation.

How the CIA honors their fallen heroes.
How the CIA honors their fallen heroes.

The CIA have a memorial wall at their HQ.

Just inside the main entrance of the CIA is a white marble wall with a collection of stars etched into the cold, hard stone. Each star memorializes a life lost in the line of duty, a sacrifice for this nation.

The inscription above the constellation reads, “In honor of those members of the Central Intelligence Agency who gave their lives in the service of their country.”

The Memorial Wall was created in July 1974, when 31 stars were chiseled into the marble. There was no dedication ceremony, no pictures taken, and no fanfare. The stars and inscription simply appeared. The stars sat in silent commemoration for the next 13 years without ceremony.

Currently, there are 125 stars carved into the marble of the CIA Memorial Wall. The wall stands as a silent, simple memorial to those employees “who gave their lives in the service of their country.” The CIA has released the names of 91 employees; the names of the remaining 34 officers must remain secret, even in death.

Source: 30 Years of Remembrance -CIA The CIA also remembers their fallen heroes on their official website. Here are a selected few:

William F Buckley

Helge Boes

Glen A Doherty

Should you wish to give back then there is a CIA Memorial Foundation which exists to support the children of fallen CIA officers.

How do other Security Services remember their fallen? If you know please do let us know in the comments or email me at and I will be happy to add your comments to this article.

So this post is a salute from all of us at Spybrary to all those in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the silent, struggle for freedom. We remember them.

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