Lexie Kamerman killed by ‘cowards,’ remembered as courageous
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter January 22, 2014 7:34PM
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:20PM
Lexie Kamerman packed so much into her 27 years because she chose to live a spectacular life, her mother told hundreds at a memorial service Wednesday.
Kamerman, the Chicago native killed last week in a terrorist bombing in Afghanistan, had the courage to follow a path she was given — at the time of her death helping young women in Afghanistan advance their education — even when she was afraid.
“She was thrilled to get the winning shot in water polo. She got the satisfaction of cleaning up New Orleans after Katrina. She climbed a live volcano and hunted with the Maasai tribe in Africa. She jumped off the highest building in Las Vegas; experienced the joy of Afghan women learning to ride bicycles for the first time — headscarves flying off; and the delight of introducing her resident assistants at the American University in Afghanistan to pixie sticks,” Ali Pohn told family and friends while wearing a blue scarf her daughter gave her for Christmas.
Kamerman visited her family in Chicago for Christmas and New Year’s and had been back in Afghanistan for just one week when she was killed in the Kabul attack. She was employed at the American University there as a student development specialist.
A picture of a young Kamerman smiling ear to ear in a swimming pool was one of three featured images at the north suburban memorial. The talented water polo player attended Latin School and Knox College and earned many all-conference honors.
Kamerman taught family and friends that the best path is not always as “comfortable” as an “old sneaker,” her mother said.
“Each of you has your own passion, but often we come up with excuses not to follow it or let it take us all the way,” Pohn said. “Maybe the legacy of Lexie is to remind all of us that we have a choice. We can choose fear or we can choose to be afraid, and in the face of that fear, follow your passion. Lexie would have wanted it that way.”
College friends spoke of Kamerman’s empathy and the love she showed to friends and complete strangers. When her college best friend graduated from a master’s program in December, Kamerman called her from Afghanistan to say congratulations. When a fellow student, whom she didn’t know, required hospitalization at a college party, she lied to doctors and paramedics about knowing the girl so she wouldn’t wake up to an empty hospital room.
Earlier, Pohn told mourners she didn’t want the day to be about wallowing in her daughter’s death, but in celebrating her life. She chose to address the tragedy head on, before sharing often humorous stories about her determined daughter.
“I just want to point out the irony in the fact that the most courageous person I know was killed by a bunch of raving cowards. Let’s get that out of the way,” Pohn said to applause.
The terrorist bombing was addressed within minutes of the one-hour memorial service by a poem written by Kamerman’s 13-year-old cousin, Simon: “Jan. 17. 2014. 11 p.m. 21 innocent people killed in a bombing and shooting in Afghanistan. Sixteen of them foreigners. Three of them were Americans. One of them was Lexie Kamerman. She was my cousin. Now I finally know what it feels like to be one of those affected in a massacre, and it hurts. To think she was in Afghanistan helping women who lived there get an education. That sickens me the most. And it’s tough. It just makes me wish this never happened.”