Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
April 26, 2022
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this evening to pay tribute to the late former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video:
 
Click here to watch the video.

“Madam Speaker, tomorrow at the National Cathedral, many of us will gather to remember and celebrate the extraordinary life of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Sec. Albright was a dear and valued friend for over thirty-five years. As the chair of the Helsinki Commission, I worked closely with her on issues related to human rights and foreign affairs.

“Sec. Albright was a diplomat, a teacher, and a mentor to so many who now serve in our diplomatic corps and in the world of foreign policy. She was an author who used her pen and her voice to urge us both to see the untapped possibilities in our world and not to ignore the dangers that confronted our country, our freedom, and our democracy.

“Perhaps most of all, Sec. Albright was someone who never forgot the experience of being a refugee and a survivor of war and genocide. It gave her great insight and determination to confront the enemies of freedom and human rights. Her family fled Czechoslovakia when it fell under the oppression of Nazi occupation. Her determination was spurred as well when Czechoslovakia fell under Stalin’s heel. That experience pushed her to spend her life working to keep others safe from those evils and to ensure that the world’s democracies, led by America, took action to help those fleeing conflict and danger.

“In 2018, she released a masterful book that everyone ought to read: ‘Fascism: A Warning.’ ‘Throughout his time in office,” she wrote of Vladimir Putin, “he has stockpiled power at the expense of provincial governors, the legislature, the courts, the private sector, and the press.  A suspicious number of those who have found fault with him have later been jailed on dubious charges or murdered in circumstances never explained.’ She saw very clearly the threat he and other tyrants pose to democracy in our time.

“I miss her wise words and insights as Ukraine’s brave fighters battle a new tyranny and another criminal dictator. After she died, just days following Vladimir Putin’s criminal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: ‘As has happened so often, the man with the guns was wrong, and Madeleine was right.’ Right now, as the world confronts Putin’s aggression, as we and our fellow democracies stand up to authoritarianism and tyranny, we do so better prepared because of the warning and the lessons that Sec. Albright gave us.

“In many ways, the most fitting tribute to her memory is the unity we and our allies are demonstrating in the face of Putin’s threat to democracy, decency, and international law. Before Sec. Albright’s death, President Biden had committed $424.4 million toward his Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, which drew heavily on her proposals and which sought to tackle the challenges she identified in her book, ‘Fascism: A Warning.’ ‘It is easier,” she wrote, “to remove tyrants and destroy concentration camps than to kill the ideas that gave them birth.” This is a war of ideas, and America must lead the fight for democracy. Now, Sec. Albright’s legacy is felt throughout the global alliance of our democratic allies and partners confronting Vladimir Putin and Russia together, where billions of dollars in both military and humanitarian assistance are being mustered and deployed in defense of democracy and human rights.

“After Sec. Albright died, I spoke at length with my former foreign policy advisor, Mariah Sixkiller, who was part of a group that met at Sec. Albright’s home for fifteen years for discussions about American leadership around the world. Mariah told me: ‘I was honored to be at her table for fifteen years and to learn from this great stateswoman. She was witty, wise, bold, and brilliant, even until her final days. She had the perfect combination of good humor and unique charm, and she made us laugh even at the hardest times. All of us who knew her and who worked with her during her time in government remember that characteristic wit and charm – along with her keen intellect and her vision of a more perfect union and more peaceful world.’

“I particularly admired the dedication she had to the mission of standing up for the rights of women and girls worldwide. As the first woman to serve as Secretary of State at a time when women were still having to prove they belonged in board rooms and around cabinet tables dominated by men, she felt a unique responsibility to be a voice for girls and women striving to be all they could be, undefined by gender alone. And she was that voice. She knew that when women have more political, social, and economic freedom, societies are better off in every way. Democracies are stronger – and democratization is more successful when women and girls can pursue opportunities in safety, equality, and freedom.

“The fight for women’s rights never ended for her. Even as recently as just a few months ago, Sec. Albright was working furiously to push for more action to help women and girls in Afghanistan, along with Afghan staff of the National Democratic Institute, which she chaired. That was the last time we spoke directly, as we worked together to help save these courageous Afghans who dedicated themselves to the goal of creating a democratic future in their country.

“In the final months of her life, Sec. Albright wrote down some reflections to be included in a new memoir. Discussing what she perceived to be her own shortcomings, she shared: ‘My parents taught me what the best teachers tell us all: that it is no sin to make a mistake – but unpardonable not to try to make the most of our talents.’ Fortunately, for America and people around the globe, Sec. Albright made the most of the many, many talents with which she was gifted. One of the greatest was as a teacher, and she taught thousands of students over the course of an almost forty-year career in academia. As a professor in the practice of diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Sec. Albright helped train and launch the careers of so many who are leaders today for America’s foreign policy and national security.

“Moreover, she had an unwavering belief that women in the field of foreign policy must support each other, so she served as a mentor to scores of young women who were her students as well as her colleagues at the State Department. And she strove to ensure that these women got a seat at the table. Sec. Albright’s legacy will live through these women who have followed in her footsteps and become the foreign service officers and ambassadors working hard on behalf of the American people today and for a long time to come. We are so fortunate to have their talents in service to our country as a result of her example and advocacy.

“Tomorrow, we will bid Sec. Albright farewell. But our country and its leaders would be wise to keep her close in our hearts and in our minds in the weeks, months, and years ahead. In many ways, the battle now underway between democracy and despotism is one that Sec. Albright so presciently foresaw. That battle, which currently rages in Ukraine, reminds us, as she did, that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We face a torturous road ahead: one that will demand our energy, our faith, our perseverance, and our courage. All of which Sec. Albright displayed throughout her life. 

“Sec. Albright believed that democracy would surely prevail, but she knew that that result required our constant attention. And when democracy prevails, as surely it must, it will be in no small part due to her work, her contributions, and her service. Godspeed, Madam Secretary, and god bless.”