Apr 27, 2022
Madeleine Albright spent life helping other women, former Secretary of State Clinton says on 4/27/22 Transcript
Madeleine Albright spent life helping other women, former Secretary of State Clinton says on 4/27/22. Read the transcript here.
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Hillary Clinton: (00:00)
President Biden, President and Mrs. Obama, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, secretaries of state, members of the cabinet, members of Congress, and friends from literally around the world gathered on this glorious day in this magnificent cathedral to celebrate the extraordinary life and service of Madeline Korbel Albright.
Hillary Clinton: (00:35)
To Madeline’s beloved family, her brother John and sister Cathy, her daughters Anne, Alice, and Katie, her sons-in-law, her six grandchildren, thank you for sharing her with us all of these years. Madeline and I bonded over many things, but in recent years, we bonded over the joy of being grandmothers. Nothing made her light up like talking about all of you. Or as Bill has said, “Made her more determined to help build a better, freer, safer world.”
Hillary Clinton: (01:25)
That mission, which animated her entire life, never wavered. In her last memoir, she shared the urgency that she always felt. She wrote, “There is shortage of worthwhile work to be done and no surplus of seasons in which to do it.” That is the wisdom of a woman who learned too early in life that life is fragile. Freedom can’t be taken for granted. Democracy must be defended. Peace must be won. And there is no time to waste doing any of that. It is the resolve of the refugee who fled tyranny twice before the age of 11. And it is the determination of a diplomat who knew war and worked to end it.
Hillary Clinton: (02:41)
I was privileged to know Madeline through many seasons of our lives and she was always in a hurry to do good. We first met in the 1980s at a benefit for the Children’s Defense Fund here in Washington. She introduced herself as a fellow Wellesley College graduate and the seeds of our friendship were sewn. We called each other 59 and 69. She was 10 years ahead of me in college, but in some ways it might have been a different century altogether.
Hillary Clinton: (03:29)
The commencement speaker, when she graduated from Wellesley, a former secretary of defense told the class of 1959 that their main responsibility was to get married and raise interesting children. Now, Madeline did that of course. But instead of resting on her maternal laurels or even resting while her newborn twins were in the neonatal intensive care unit, she decided presciently it was time to learn Russian at the local college.
Hillary Clinton: (04:19)
Later her as a professor herself, she inspired her students to share her spirit of urgency and action. “Silence may be golden,” she told them, “But it won’t win many arguments. You have to interrupt.” This came in handy when Bill named her ambassador to the United Nations in 1993 and then secretary of state in 1996. Now, it’s been said that I urged my husband to nominate her as our first female secretary of state. Unlike much that’s said, “This story is true.” And I was thrilled when he agreed.
Hillary Clinton: (05:24)
When dictators dragged their feet or ambassadors filibustered, Madeline never hesitated to speak up. And just in case they didn’t get the message, she would put on a snail pin to signal her impatience. A dozen times a day, she would ask her team what’s next, turning her boundless energy and intellect to yet another crucial global challenge. She was irrepressible, wickedly funny, very stylish, and always ready for a laugh. She brought the same energy to her friendships as she did to her diplomacy. Yes, it’s true. She did teach the foreign minister of Botswana the Macarena at a UN Security Council meeting and snuck off early from an official event to do the tango in Buenos Aires.
Hillary Clinton: (06:36)
She was even invited to compete on Dancing With the Stars after she tore up the dance floor at Chelsea’s wedding, in the arms I would add of a much younger, very handsome man. She guest starred on TV shows like Gilmore Girls and Madam Secretary. In fact, she and Colin Powell of blessed memory and Madeline and I were on that series, which we all three loved and actually watched. And Madeline was always making a point to the script writer, “That would not have happened.”
Hillary Clinton: (07:26)
And finally Colin said to her, “Madeline, it’s fiction. It’s a story.” She said, “I know, but I want them to get it right.” She took me on a memorable walking tour of her beloved Prague in the midst of a driving rainstorm, which left us both laughing so hard we hardly noticed. And we spent a memorable evening together at the home of president and Mrs. Hovel, just the four of us having dinner. And I got to listen to them talk about what it meant for their beloved country to be free.
Hillary Clinton: (08:14)
She met regularly with a group of former foreign ministers who were known as Madeline and her exes. And yes, I just want to make it clear. She really could leg press 400 pounds. When that first came out, there were doubters. Anyone who knew Madeline didn’t, but not everyone had that great pleasure. And so, she made it very clear by going to her gym as soon as the article came out to do it again so that people would know, yes, she did.
Hillary Clinton: (09:03)
And she mentored the next generation of women leaders through vital voices and organization that she and I helped to start back in the late 90s. And the Albright Institute at her beloved Wellesley College. She relished her annual journey north to Wellesley, outside of Boston, each winter to meet with the Institute’s fellows. They came from all corners of the globe to hear from experts, to think critically about our biggest challenges and to prepare for central roles in solving them. And very often, she would call me when she returned with just such enthusiasm in her voice about the young women she had just spent time with and what they were going to do in the future.
Hillary Clinton: (10:02)
She led the American delegation to the historical UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. And she urged me to push the envelope on women’s rights in the speech I delivered there. She also came with us the next day, about 45 minutes outside of Beijing, to where the non-government organizations and the activists had been sent. And where we in the midst of a driving rain, another driving rain with me and Madeline waded through the mud, trying to avoid the security from the Chinese government who were not happy that Madeline and I were there in order to speak to those women who would go home across the world to spread the message that women’s rights are human rights.
Hillary Clinton: (11:00)
She never blinked. She just pulled herself up to her full height, which I never believed was five feet, but however high it was, she took every inch. And every part of her spine was as straight as a steel bar and just looked at the security people and said, “Get out of our way. We’re going to our meeting.” She didn’t just help other women. She spent her entire life counseling and cajoling, inspiring and lifting up so many of us who are here today. So the angels better be wearing their best pins and putting on their dancing shoes. Because if, as Madeline believed, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women, they haven’t seen anyone like her yet.
Hillary Clinton: (12:04)
And yes, on top of all that, she continued to issue blunt warnings about the dangers posed by authoritarianism and fascism with undeniable moral clarity. Until the end, she was still in a hurry to do good. As Bill said, during the last phone call two weeks before she died, she talked about the importance of what President Biden is doing to rally the world against Putin’s horrific invasion of Ukraine and the urgent work of defending democracy at home and around the world. She knew better than most and she warned us in her book on fascism, that yes, it can happen here, and time and courage are of the essence.
Hillary Clinton: (13:22)
The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season and a time and purpose under heaven. A time to weep and a time to laugh. If Madeline were here with us today, she would also remind us this must be a season of action. And yes, once again, we must heed the wisdom of her life and the cause of her public service. Stand up to dictators and demagogues, from the battlefields of Ukraine, to the halls of our own capital. Defend democracy at home, just as vigorously as we do abroad. Live up to the ideals of the country that welcomed an 11 year old refugee sailing into New York Harbor on a ship called SS America and made her secretary of state. Let us honor Madeline’s life and legacy by being the indispensable nation she loved and served. And let us live as she did, in a hurry to do the most good we can with every season under heaven. God speed, 59. God bless you, Dear Madeline. We will never, ever forget you.