Calling Ruzicka "one of (the United States') most beloved ambassadors" Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., credited her with initiating U.S. government programs to compensate civilians injured or bereaved in U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Praising Ruzicka's "personal effort... her irrepressible energy," Leahy said the programs "would never have happened without the courage... of Marla Ruzicka."
"She wanted the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to see the face of America she believed in," said Leahy. "The compassionate face, the caring face."
Ruzicka was killed Saturday in an explosion aimed at a convoy of U.S. security contractors on the notorious Baghdad airport road.
"Who among us would have found the courage to travel that road on Saturday?" asked Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., recalling the road is so dangerous, congressional delegations are transported to and from the airport by helicopter.
Both Senators pledged to ensure Ruzicka's work continued.
"She wouldn't want us to weep, she wouldn't want us to hang our heads," said Boxer, "She would want us to make sure that her work continued."
"Our job is really to carry on the work that Marla started," added Leahy, "That's what I'm committed to."