The event, celebrated as "A Tribute Honoring the Life of Richard C. Holbrooke" was held at the Kennedy Center and began with the screening of several photos depicting his life. Among them was one with the Holbrooke family and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Then during her remarks, Kati Marton, Holbrooke's widow, referred to causes from "Cyprus to Tibet" that he was concerned with. Son Anthony Holbrooke, in his remarks, referred to his travel with his father to Tibet and being with the nomads there. Another son, David Holbrooke, recalled a guest commenting that theirs did not seem to be a normal family after seeing photos of the family with His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as with American leaders at their home.
Those who paid tribute included President Barack Obama, stepdaughter Elizabeth Jennings, former State Department official Strobe Talbott, friends like James Johnson and Leslie Gelb, Ambassador Frank Wisner, NSC Senior Director Samantha Power, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Those who attended the event, according to a report, included Vice President Joseph Biden, serving and former American leaders, including National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, State Department policy planning chief Anne Marie Slaughter, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, NSC senior director Derek Chollet, NSC senior director Doug Lute, Rep. Jane Harman, Madeleine Albright, Zalmay Khalilzad, Robert Rubin, Pakistani President Asif Zardari, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, ambassadors of various countries and a host of American and international VIPs. One media report said, "Three heads of state, over a dozen foreign ministers, and hundreds more familiar faces from around the foreign policy community were in attendance at the event."
Special Envoy Lodi Gyari was invited to the event but as he was traveling, Bhuchung K. Tsering attended on his behalf. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had passed away in Washington, DC on 13 December 2010.