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An Old Soldiers Prayer for Seven CIA Black Stars on the Heroes Wall at Langley

Updated on October 2, 2011

The brave men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency are memorialized on the North Wall of the HQ’s Building at Langley, Va. They serve in the ‘Shadows’ and often their accomplishments go unnoticed in history even, and sometimes especially, when they are the most successful. It is the life they choose, as Shadow Warriors and as an old soldier and fellow warrior; I am compelled to offer this prayer to their families, comrades, and friends. These are folks that stand squarely in ‘The Fire” shunning safety in numbers, and shunning recognition or acknowledgement.

Wikepidia in part describes the wall as

The Memorial Wall is located in the OriginalHeadquartersBuilding lobby on the north wall. There are 90 stars carved into the white Vermont marble wall,[2] each one representing an employee who died in the line of service.[1] Paramilitary officers of the CIA's Special Activities Division comprise the majority of those memorialized.[3]

A black Moroccan goatskin-bound book, called the "Book of Honor," sits in a steel frame beneath the stars, its "slender case jutting out from the wall just below the field of stars," and is "framed in stainless steel and topped by an inch-thick plate of glass."[2] Inside it shows the stars, arranged by year of death and, when possible, lists the names of employees who died in CIA service alongside them.[1][2] The identities of the unnamed stars remain secret, even in death.[1] In 1997, there were 70 stars, 29 of which had names.[2] There were 79 stars in 2002, [4] 83 in 2004,[5] and 90 in 2009.[6]

CI Memorial Wall , Langley VA photo Wikepedia
CI Memorial Wall , Langley VA photo Wikepedia
(click for full size image)
(click for full size image)

The Wall bears the inscription IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY in gold block letters.[2] The Wall is flanked by the flag of the United States on the left and a flag bearing the CIA seal on the right.[2]

Each star measures 2¼ inches tall by 2¼ inches wide and half an inch deep; all the stars are six inches apart from each other, as are all the rows.

 (See link below for full Description)

The Memorial is beautiful in it’s simplicity, and its message of sacrifice and service is a powerful reminder that Freedom is not free. The price of Freedom and the defense of our Constitution is paid generation by generation with the blood of our patriots.

President Obama acknowledges this in his letter of condolence to the CIA employees yesterday (see link below for full text)

“...maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA. You have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country. You have served in the shadows, and your sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families.”

The Memorial Wall is a quiet place where those who have given all they had to be remembered. Just like soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen that serve, it is but the one thing we ask of our country for the sacrifices we make, and that is –to be remembered. Remembered by our nation for the sacrifices made, remembered by our comrades for what ever lessons can be learned, and remembered for an example of selfless service by future generations. President Obama continued in his message…

“The men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan did their duty with courage, honor and excellence, and we must draw strength from the example of their sacrifice. They will take their place on the Memorial Wall at Langley alongside so many other heroes who gave their lives on behalf of their country. And they will live on in the hearts of those who loved them, and in the freedom that they gave their lives to defend….”

As the President has offered his condolences I now offer my humble prayer for these seven patriots and comrades in Freedoms Defense. I hope it brings some small comfort to those who have endured their loss…

Whereas, it has pleased Almighty God, the Great Commander, to summon to the immortal legions my fellow comrades-in-arms

I humbly bow to the will of Divine Providence, while ever cherishing in my heart the memory of their distinguished service to our country and the free people of the world.

I do mourn the passing of, these Shadow Warriors.

I commend their souls to all the works and to God the spirit; and in token of my common grief,

I pray their souls meets Gods sweet embrace and for their comradeship to all of my brethren who have gone before to the Everlasting Post, in Heaven .

I ask your comfort for their families, comrades and friends in their hour of need ….


JH Ellis Sr (USA, ret)


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