Apr 28, 2022

Madeleine Albright’s daughters say she never forgot her roots as a refugee 4/27/22 Transcript

Madeleine Albright's daughters say she never forgot her roots as a refugee 4/27/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsMadeleine AlbrightMadeleine Albright’s daughters say she never forgot her roots as a refugee 4/27/22 Transcript

Madeleine Albright’s daughters say she never forgot her roots as a refugee 4/27/22. Read the transcript here.


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Anne Korbel Albright: (00:04)
President Biden, President Obama, Mrs. Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan, Secretaries Blinken, Carrie Rice, leaders and friends from abroad, members of Congress and the diplomatic core, Bishop Buddy, all those who are here and all those watching from afar, we speak for our entire family in thanking you for joining in this ceremony of celebration and remembrance. Most of you knew Madeleine Albright as a colleague in government or business, a teacher, or a champion of democracy and human rights. To the world, these were the many hats she wore.

Anne Korbel Albright: (01:07)
But to our family, she also wore others. That of devoted sister, aunt, Grandma Maddy. And for the three of us, the best mom ever. Of course, even great moms have quirks. When we were little, my sisters and I often awoke to the odd maternal cry of, “Up and atom, said the molecule.” Usually, Mom had risen hours to work on her PhD dissertation, fix our breakfasts, and organize our backpacks. When we were at summer camp, she constantly sent us notes about whatever was on her mind. The state of the garden, plumbing issues, or whether we thought it would be okay for her to take a job on Capitol Hill.

Anne Korbel Albright: (02:11)
Her handwriting was distinctive and indecipherable. Her Ms all looked like Ws. And so the signature on our library cards identified our mother as Wadeleine Albright. Now, some people, in the lingo of our Czech grandmother, like to play it by the ears. Not Mom. She loved schedules and knowing the order of her day. She had boundless energy and was always planning for what came next. She described herself as an optimist who worries a lot, and we can all attest to her worries. She was incredibly protective. But no matter how much she took on, no matter how much of the world was on her plate, we always knew that when we needed her, she would take our calls, say, “Here I am.” And come quick.

Anne Korbel Albright: (03:23)
Of course, we worried about her too. Especially after she became UN ambassador, and militants cursed and threw rocks at her in the Balkans. The resulting t-shirt, I got stoned with Madeleine Albright, made us smile. But the reality did not. And from then on, we insisted that she tell us in advance where she was going, who she’d be with, or otherwise, we declared, you’ll be grounded.

Anne Korbel Albright: (04:05)
As we got older, Mom never tried to steer us in one direction or another. She just urged us to forge ahead to be whatever we wanted to be. For my sisters, that meant at working globally and locally to help children and communities thrive. For me, that meant being a public defender and family lawyer. One night when I was with a client at the Montgomery County jail and had to call my mother to cancel our dinner date, she thought I was in jail and almost had a heart attack.

Anne Korbel Albright: (04:47)
After I became a judge, she drove to Rockville to, quote, watch me in action. “Effective courts,” she said, “were essential to a strong democracy.” Mom’s example meant much to me and my sisters. She said that if we or any other young women wanted to compete successfully with men, we had to make sure our ideas were heard. And that meant being willing-

Alice Patterson Albright: (05:20)
To interrupt. Yes, interrupt. But when you do make sure you have your thoughts in order and your facts straight. This is a lesson that Mom imparted not only to us, but to generations of students at her beloved Georgetown. During a teaching career that spanned almost 40 years, she never lost her enthusiasm. Often when I asked her what she’d be doing over the weekend, she responded, “Getting ready for Monday’s class.” When I replied, “But don’t you already know everything you need to know.” She said, “There’s all always more to learn.” Mom was devoted to her students and particularly looked forward to the now famous role play that showed students the realities of decision making. She taught through to the end of this past year, when her health was already starting to fail. Going to the hospital, she took with her a large binder of student papers. I can still see her propped up in bed, reading and grading.

Alice Patterson Albright: (06:48)
We often get asked, “What kind of mother was she?” She was the kind who usually called every day, and sometimes twice. My time was 6:35 PM. “How are the boys?” “How is work?” “When is your next trip?” “Are you going running tonight?” “Don’t forget, it’s dark out.” She was also the kind of mother that took family celebrations very seriously, and would never miss a birthday, a graduation, a wedding, or an anniversary. And often called days in advance to start planning. She surprised everyone at Greg’s and my wedding, which happened to be on Halloween, by outfitting the entire wedding party with elaborate feathered masks.

Alice Patterson Albright: (07:41)
Mom sparked an interest in all things international, especially for me. We grew up devouring Czech dumplings and singing Czech Christmas carols. When Anne and I were 12, and Katie was six. She and dad took us on our first trip across the Atlantic to visit Switzerland and France. She loved speaking French, one of the five languages that she spoke fluently and urged us to learn as well for her. This was a question of respect and a lesson about understanding perspectives beyond our own. As I started to work in international finance and development, Mom was my best source of guidance. Before my trips, I often called her with questions about the countries I was about to visit, which UN conventions were relevant, what she knew about the political environment. And of course, where I could pick up an extra pair of red heels, should I need them?

Alice Patterson Albright: (08:47)
She was always happy to give advice if I asked, though sometimes it came with the worried tone of a mother who knew too much about the security situation in some of the places where I was headed. Mom had friends everywhere and there’s hardly a place where I have landed where I have not been asked some version of, “Is Madeleine your mother? How is she?” And then always is followed by, “We just love her.” Mom took a particular interest whenever I let her know that I was visiting refugees or working to help girls get a better chance for an education. Often her voice would grow a bit deeper, the conversation slower, and I could tell that she was reminded of being an 11-year-old immigrant girl who survived the Blitz, moved around repeatedly, left her homeland, and arrived in the United States in 1948, with her sister, brother, and parents, seeking refuge and wanting a better and safer future.

Alice Patterson Albright: (09:59)
Even though she became one of the world’s top diplomats, Mom never forget, forgot where she came from, and how precarious her circumstances were when she first arrived in the United States. This explained why Mom never took anything for granted and was always grateful for everything. She described herself as a grateful American and took enormous pride in representing the US abroad.

Alice Patterson Albright: (10:30)
Now, when I look at my watch, I know that 6:35 PM will never be the same for me. And I will be forever grateful, Mom, for everything you’ve given me. I miss you so much, Mom, and everything about you. And will forever.

Katharine Medill Albright: (11:02)
I’m the youngest, and tried my very best to take advantage of that by pushing the rules and boundaries. It didn’t work. But Mom also had rules for herself. As Anne mentioned, and President Biden, she would always pick up the phone when we called. But I still remember this one day she didn’t.

Katharine Medill Albright: (11:33)
I was in elementary school, and Mom had recently started her professional career with her first job on Capitol Hill. When I called her office, I was told, “Your mother can’t come to the phone right now because she’s on the floor with Senator Muskie.” I had no clue what that meant. As Mom tells the story, that night I ran up to her and I asked, “What were you two doing on the floor?” She then aptly explained to her young daughter how the legislative business of our country is conducted on the Senate Floor.

Katharine Medill Albright: (12:33)
Of course, everyone in our family has a favorite memory, and many of Mom. Permit me to share a few more, and I invite you to imagine them with us. Picture Mom sitting on the sofa, with her feet up, glasses perched on her nose, knitting. Knitting everything from little clothes for our dolls to colorful, cozy, woolen socks.

Katharine Medill Albright: (13:07)
Think of her helping us to maneuver a little red wagon filled with Girl Scout cookies in the spring or campaign leaflets in the fall, along the crowded sidewalks and cobbled streets of our neighborhood. With every step an unspoken lesson in hard work, giving back, and civic participation.

Katharine Medill Albright: (13:35)
Imagine Mom swooping down the Colorado ski slopes while wrapped in a purple parka and fuzzy hat. Or, more accurately, snowplowing back and forth, so cautiously that we teased her of inventing a whole new sport, uphill skiing. But skiing, as in life, she always let us zoom ahead and beamed at our daring.

Katharine Medill Albright: (14:11)
Think of her at a commencement ceremony, indeed my own, from that very pulpit, decked out in her academic robes, urging young people to help one another take risks, laugh often, and never leave a friend behind.

Katharine Medill Albright: (14:33)
Or in her dark blue suit, preparing for her historic confirmation hearing as America’s first female Secretary of State. And what is she doing in the waiting room, brushing her hair and giving us each a Tic Tac.

Katharine Medill Albright: (14:54)
Picture mom, cheeks of bright pink, as President Obama clasps the Medal of Freedom around her neck. After which she shares with us the pride she felt in her own parents, and the delight that her grandchildren, her grandees, could witness the day.

Katharine Medill Albright: (15:20)
Envision her leading our family along the magical streets of Prague. Gleefully recounting the legend about trolls and water pixies. And then guiding us through the sorrowful exhibits of Teratezin, where more than two dozen of our ancestors were imprisoned during the war because of their Jewish faith. None survived.

Katharine Medill Albright: (15:55)
With Mom, the joys and the tears were never entirely separated. Imagine hands, that like hers, were both soft and strong, hands that exchanged greetings with numberless heads of state, refugees, and fighters for freedom. Hands that congratulated graduates and new citizens. Hands that tickled our toes when we were young, took our temperatures when we were sick, held our babies when newly born. And hands that often joined together in prayer, that people everywhere might live in peace.

Katharine Medill Albright: (16:46)
Finally, see in your mind’s eye, a King James Bible, dogeared and worn, found by a window she loved, days after she passed, with a handwritten note, nearly decipherable. It read Micah 6:8. And the words, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” I believe that this is truly how Mom tried to live every day of her life and tried to teach us to do the same.

Katharine Medill Albright: (17:47)
Dying was never on Mom’s schedule. A hole has opened in our hearts that we lack the power to close. But the memory of her love, and the resilience of her example will remain with us and with many of you until the end of our days. For that, Mom, and for so much more, thank you. We love you.

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