A veritable who's who of Washington leaders gathered Wednesday to pay their last respects to Madeleine Albright, a child of conflict-ravaged Europe who arrived in the US at age 11 and became America's first female secretary of state. The trailblazing diplomat and champion of her adopted country as the world's "indispensable nation" was joyously remembered by President Biden and former President Bill Clinton as a no-nonsense, valued adviser who did not suffer fools or tyrants and was most concerned about Russia's invasion of Ukraine when she died last month of cancer at 84. Biden said Albright's name was synonymous with the idea that America is "a force for good in the world," the AP reports.
"In the 20th and 21st century, freedom had no greater champion than Madeleine Korbel Albright," Biden said. "Today we honor a truly proud American who made all of us prouder to be Americans." Clinton, who appointed her first as his UN ambassador in 1993 and then as secretary of state in 1996, said his last conversation with Albright weeks before her death was dominated by the situation in Ukraine and her fears about the future of democracy at home and abroad. He recalled that Albright didn't want to "waste time" talking about her declining health at a moment when the West is on edge because of the war. "The only thing that really matters is what kind of world we're going to leave to our grandchildren," Clinton recalled Albright saying.
The roughly1,400 mourners at Washington's National Cathedral included former President Barack Obama and several of Albright's successors as secretary of state, including Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, and Antony Blinken. The service was punctuated at points by tears, laughter and applause. Albright's three daughters, Anne, Alice, and Katharine, remembered her as a doting mother and "Granny Maddy" despite her hectic work schedule that took her around the world. A month before she died, the New York Times printed what would be Albright's last published writing. She wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine would be a "historic error" that would cement his legacy as one of infamy. "Until the end, she was still in a hurry to do good," Hillary Clinton said.
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