Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first woman to have ever held the post, was memorialized by presidents, former First Ladies, and more Wednesday.
A month after she succumbed to cancer, an estimated 1,400 people gathered in the Washington National Cathedral to pay their final respects.
Among the numerous dignitaries in attendance were Presidents Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, as well as former Vice President Al Gore, former First Lady and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and current Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“She was smart, tough-minded, talented,” said former President Clinton, under whom Albright served. “She had a great sense of humor and a clear grasp on the post-Cold War world we were moving into.”
President Biden offered the first eulogy, during which he said that the mention of Albright’s name was met with a “deafening cheer” during his recent speech before a gathering of Pols and Ukrainians in Europe.
“They all stopped everything and started to cheer,” Biden said. “It was spontaneous. It was real. For her name is still synonymous with America as a force for good in the world.”
The funeral was, perhaps unsurprisingly, replete with not-so-subtle political messaging as Biden and his allies continued to rail against Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as despotism broadly.
In particular, Hillary Clinton used the moment as a means of rallying support for the war effort in Ukraine and fight against fascism.
“She knew better than most — and she warned us in her book on fascism — that yes, it can happen here,” the former First Lady said. “And time and courage are of the essence.” She added, “If Madeleine were here with us today, she would also remind us this must be a season of action. Stand up to dictators and demagogues from the battlefields of Ukraine to the halls of our own Capitol. Defend democracy at home just as vigorously as we do abroad.”
Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia, had a lifelong aversion to fascism. Her family had been exiled in the late 1930s when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis gained control of their home nation.
Perhaps appropriately, she would later play a key role in the United States’ dealings with NATO.
“[It] was not lost on me that Madeleine was a big part of the reason NATO was still strong and galvanized, as it is today,” Biden said.