Families and colleagues of eight diplomats killed in the line of duty, including the four lost in Benghazi last year, are now honored with memorial plaques in the State Department.

The work of the men and women — including a young Foreign Service officer, Anne Smedinghoff, killed in Afghanistan last month — was praised by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry.

The ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was the first killed in the line of duty since 1979. He died in the Benghazi attack.

As Biden said, the risks taken by diplomats and Americans working in international aid efforts are not often understood by citizens. They are “as much a soldier as anyone in uniform,” he said. “What they (citizens) don’t know, and you can’t expect them to know, is that they take risks that sometimes exceed those of the women and men in uniform.”

“It takes a whole hell of a lot of courage and dedication to do the job your family members do,” Biden said at the State Department ceremony. “They do it willingly with a passion that astounds me.”

The nation owes them gratitude.