WASHINGTON — President Biden and many of the country’s top leaders paid tribute to former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright on Wednesday as the West faces the rise of authoritarianism she has often warned about.
Biden, who leads an international coalition supporting Ukraine in its war against Russian invaders, joined former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and a host of lawmakers, diplomats and other celebrities for a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral a month after Ms. Albright died of cancer at the age of 84.
“In the 20th and 21st centuries, freedom had no greater champion than Madeleine Albright,” Biden told a crowd of 1,400. Addressing Ms. Albright’s three daughters, the president added, “Your mother was a force, a force of nature. . With her kindness and grace, her humanity and intellect, she turned the tide of history.”
Mr Biden recalled being aboard Air Force One en route to Europe to rally NATO allies to stand up to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine when he learned that Ms Albright had passed away. “It hadn’t escaped my notice that Madeleine was a big part of why NATO was still strong and galvanized as it is today,” the president said.
Part of a family fleeing communism in Eastern Europe, Ms. Albright became the US Ambassador to the United Nations and the first female Secretary of State. She spent much of her career focusing on the dangers of autocracy and advocating for determination by the democracies of the world. In her last guest essay for DailyExpertNews in February, before the Russian invasion, she called for “vigorous diplomatic pushback and increasing economic and military support for Ukraine”.
Memory of Madeleine K. Albright (1937-2022)
The first woman to serve as secretary of state, who rose to power and fame as a brilliant analyst of world affairs, died at the age of 84.
The cathedral service brought together a who’s who of Democratic political and foreign political institutions along with some Republican supporters. In addition to Mr. Biden, tributes will be paid by Mr. Clinton, who appointed Ms. Albright Secretary of State for a tour lasting from 1997 to 2001, and Hillary Clinton, who played a key role as First Lady in pushing for her nomination and later held her office at the State Department.
Mrs. Albright was the third former Secretary of State to die in just over a year, after George P. Shultz and Colin L. Powell. Her colleagues are represented by the current Secretary, Antony J. Blinken, who has just returned from a visit to Ukraine, as well as former Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and John F. Kerry. Susan E. Rice and Samantha Power, who both followed her to the United Nations and now hold senior positions in the Biden administration, also planned to attend.
Other senior officials noted or expected included Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, minority leader; Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III; Gene. Mark A. Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; William J. Burns, the CIA director; and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser. Many of the top national security figures counted Ms. Albright as a mentor.
Mrs. Albright had a long relationship with the cathedral. All three of her daughters attended Beauvoir School and graduated from the National Cathedral School, both of which are affiliated with the cathedral, and she headed Beauvoir’s board of directors during the 1970s. At the time of her death, Mrs. Albright member of the Cathedral Chapter, the institution’s board of directors.
Her daughters – Anne K. Albright, Alice P. Albright, and Katharine M. Albright – will offer her memorials. Lectures are offered by Condoleezza Rice; Wendy R. Sherman, the Deputy Secretary of State and a protege of Mrs. Albright; Rabbi David N. Saperstein, a former ambassador general for international religious freedom; and Winifred S. Freund, a classmate of the former secretary and her best friend.
The carriers were former members of her security service at the United Nations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Musical numbers are provided by two performers with whom she was friends: the trumpeter Chris Botti and the jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.