MR DEGIOIA:  By advantage of the authority vested in me by the Congress of the US and by the Board of Administrators of Georgetown College, I formally confer upon Secretary Antony Blinken the diploma of Physician of Humane Letters honoris causa.  And it’s now my pleasure to current Dr. Antony Blinken, who will supply the graduation handle.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Hiya Georgetown.  (Cheers.)  Thanks, Ambassador Bodine, for a really unbelievable and overly beneficiant introduction.  I don’t know if will probably be attainable to stay as much as something close to what you stated, however I’m grateful to your remarks, and grateful as effectively to your outstanding service to this nation over so a few years.

President DeGioia, Dean Hellman, Provost Groves, distinguished college and workers, proud mother and father and grandparents, supportive and rival siblings (laughter); devoted aunts, uncles, and buddies; and most of all, members of the Georgetown College of Overseas Service Class of 2022 (cheers):  Thanks, thanks, thanks for the distinction of being a part of this excellent establishment’s graduation celebration.

Now, I’m not a Georgetown alum, however I’m the son-in-law of two of them, Tony and Donna Ryan.  Standing up right here right now in entrance of Healy Corridor most likely earned me extra factors with them than the present job that I maintain.  (Laughter.)  It’s most likely additionally true of my former boss, President Clinton, class of ’68.  So thanks, Georgetown.  The one distinction, Mr. President, is that, such as you, they really earned their honors.

So I wish to begin by kicking the elephant out of the room.  Sure, NYU obtained Taylor Swift as their graduation speaker.  (Laughter and applause.)

Now, my workers didn’t let me deliver my guitar up right here to dedicate a efficiency of “We Are By no means Ever Getting Again Collectively” to President Putin.  (Laughter and applause.)  They stated it might be “undiplomatic” and in addition “cringe.”  (Laughter.)  Additionally, since when is cringe an adjective?  (Laughter.)

In any case, guitar or not, I’m thrilled to be right here.

It is a big day for a lot of causes.  And perhaps probably the most exhilarating is that that is certainly the primary in-person graduation since 2019, so it’s simply fantastic to be in the identical place with all of you.  And I actually wish to commend these graduates for persevering via lockdowns, Zoom lessons, quarantining, and – for a few of you – via loss, together with a beloved classmate.

I do know this has not been a simple street.  However you may have traveled it collectively, and also you’ve achieved it whereas practising the core precept of cura personalis – of taking good care of yourselves and taking good care of each other.  So right now, I hope you’ll take a second to savor the truth that you may have achieved one thing extraordinary.  You’ve accomplished a world-class training at one of many best colleges for worldwide affairs on all the planet.  (Cheers.)

Now, this accomplishment is yours, however it additionally belongs to everybody who cherished and supported you alongside the way in which.  None of us achieves the whole lot on our personal.  So earlier than we go any additional, can we please have an enormous spherical of applause to all of the household and buddies who helped make right now attainable?  (Cheers.)

There’s another person who’s already been talked about that I wish to point out as effectively – somebody that we dearly want was right here with us right now, and who can be cheering for this class with all her would possibly – and that’s the nice Madeleine Albright.  (Applause.)  Madeleine was a robust Georgetown partisan.  This was her cherished residence for many years.  And as has been famous – in just a little twist of historical past – she was the speaker for that final in-person SFS graduation three years in the past.

And I’ve to let you know it feels just a little bit like she has handed a torch to me right now, and never for the primary time.  In spite of everything, I sit at her desk day by day.

So on the event of the Class of 2022’s graduation, I believed what I’d do is discuss just a little bit about her and about two different secretaries of state we stated goodbye to since final yr, Colin Powell and George Shultz.

Now, they had been three very completely different folks – completely different backgrounds, completely different political philosophies, completely different kinds of management.  And the occasions throughout which they had been secretary had been completely different, too.  However they devoted their lives to service.  They left their mark.  And their tales maintain classes for each one in every of us, particularly for you, the graduates of this faculty.

Now, let’s face it:  If anybody goes to understand secretary of state tales, it’s somebody with the phrases “overseas service” on their diploma.  (Laughter.)

I do know that each younger individual graduating right now is instantly inundated with recommendation, and it may possibly most likely really feel unimaginable to kind via all of it.  So let me say this:  Don’t consider this as recommendation, only a few tales from a couple of individuals who led outstanding lives and who as soon as had been sitting proper the place you’re sitting, deeply on this planet, questioning how they would slot in.

And I do know they wouldn’t thoughts if only for right now we drop the honorifics.  So if it’s all proper, for right now they’re not secretaries.  They’re Madeleine, they’re Colin, they’re George.

The primary lesson is about remembering the place you got here from.  Colin drilled this into his three youngsters as they grew up.

He was the son of Jamaican immigrants within the South Bronx.  His block, Kelly Avenue, had all types of individuals on it – West Indians, African People, Puerto Ricans, and Jews just like the Klein household, who lived downstairs from the Powells.  They’d the one tv within the constructing and they might invite all the neighborhood – all the children over – to look at it on Tuesday nights.

Colin later stated his neighborhood caught with him as a mannequin for America at its greatest, a spot the place range made folks’s lives richer, extra vibrant, and the place folks regarded out for each other even after they regarded completely different.

Colin introduced that spirit to each staff that he constructed.  It’s why he labored so arduous, as he used to say, to make the State Division look extra like America.  And it’s why he’d be so pleased with the outsized cohorts of Pickering, Rangel, and Payne Fellows right here on the College of Overseas Service – together with 33 present fellows, and 37 extra beginning subsequent yr.  (Applause.)

Madeleine got here to the US at age 11 as a refugee. Her household had been pushed from their residence in Czechoslovakia twice – first by the Nazis, then by the communists.  She already had skilled the horrors of warfare; she hid in shelters in London as bombs dropped from the sky.

She by no means forgot why it mattered for international locations to face as much as tyrants and open their arms to the displaced.  That was true whether or not she was talking on the United Nations Safety Council, swearing in a brand new group of Americans, or assembly with refugees uprooted by warfare.  She couldn’t assist however put herself within the sneakers of individuals fleeing repression, as a result of she had as soon as walked in these sneakers.

George stored a large globe in his workplace as secretary.  Earlier than any new ambassador left for his or her publish, he would administer one final take a look at.  Present me your nation on the globe, he’d say.  In order that they’d spin the globe they usually’d search for Argentina or Nigeria or Indonesia, wherever they had been going.  And George would gently take their finger and transfer it and put it on the US.  That is your nation, he would say.

It was his method of reminding America’s diplomats that irrespective of how far they traveled, the people who they served had been nonetheless right here.  After all, if the members of this class stood earlier than that globe, you’d level at dozens of various international locations, a few of which weren’t even on the map when George was secretary.

However right here’s the purpose:  Irrespective of the place you go or what trigger you serve, attempt to maintain on to what’s formed you.  Use these first coordinates, the locations and people who make up your Map of the Trendy World.

And attempt to keep in mind this for different folks.  It’s price placing some work into studying the place different folks come from, particularly folks whose map is vastly completely different from yours.  That’s the basis of empathy, and it’s helpful irrespective of the place you go.

The second lesson is about all the time being a pupil.

Madeleine began instructing right here 40 years in the past.  So I tracked down the newest syllabus for her course, America’s Nationwide Safety Toolbox.  Right here’s the way it begins:  “I’m trying ahead to each instructing and studying from you.  Collectively, [we’ll] do our greatest to make sense of [what’s] occurring on this planet.”

Madeleine noticed each pupil who handed via SFS as somebody that she may be taught from.  She’d meet individually with each pupil that she got here throughout throughout her time right here.  She quoted college students in her books.  In her interviews, she usually stated issues like, “I’ve a pupil who” or “My college students inform me.”

And as her daughters shared at her memorial service, Madeleine introduced a stack of your papers along with her to the hospital.  She was nonetheless studying from you proper until the very finish.

Likewise, George all the time regarded to have interaction folks at each degree.  So a few of you might know we now have a system on the State Division that produces coverage memos.  A few of you might be accustomed to it.  Certainly, a junior staffer would write a draft, it really works its method up via the hierarchy, till finally a senior official indicators off on it.

When George had a query a couple of memo, he didn’t ask the senior individual.  He referred to as the one who drafted it.  He’d ask them to swing by his workplace.  Many had by no means been in a room with a secretary of state.  Now they had been debating coverage with one, as a result of George knew that these desk officers had data that nobody else did.

And as secretary, Colin would sneak away from his safety element to speak to folks he most likely wouldn’t in any other case meet.  At some point, he went right down to the State Division storage.  Now, these of you who know the storage know that it’s too small for all of the vehicles to suit.  So each morning, the parking attendants line the vehicles up in very, very tight rows.  Once they noticed George – excuse me, Colin strolling up, they thought he was misplaced.  However he had come to speak.

He requested them the place they had been from, how did they just like the job.  They usually informed him issues that solely they might know – like how they determined which automobile obtained out first on the finish of the day.  If the individual really knew their names and handled them like human beings, they obtained out first.  In the event that they acted just like the attendants had been invisible, they had been final.

Decency dominated.

Studying from others is a method of exhibiting respect.  It tells folks that you just see them, that you just worth them.

As anybody who knew Colin, Madeleine, or George can let you know, they spent their complete lives in studying mode.  This openness, this curiosity, meant that they had been all the time stumbling throughout new concepts and new methods of seeing issues.  And it meant life by no means stopped being fascinating.

The third lesson is about getting misplaced.  And never simply within the ICC right here on campus.  (Laughter.)

It’s extremely tempting to see the lives of the super-accomplished as someway following a straight line that led all the way in which to the highest.  However in actual life, it not often goes that method.

Colin’s mother and father didn’t go to varsity, in order that they pinned very excessive expectations on him.  His mother determined he ought to examine engineering, so he signed up for it.  However he simply couldn’t get via mechanical drawing; he switched to geology.  A household assembly was referred to as.  His mother and father made clear their disappointment.  He wasn’t making buddies at college both, and again residence on Kelly Avenue, his neighbors had been calling him “faculty child,” and never all the time in a pleasant method.  He felt like he didn’t fairly slot in wherever.

Madeleine obtained married three days after graduating from Wellesley.  By age 24, she was mother to twins.  One after one other, she pushed on doorways, solely to search out them shut.

When she and her husband on the time – who was a journalist – had dinner with the editor of his newspaper, Madeleine stated that she too needed to be a reporter.  The editor instantly shot her down.  “You wouldn’t wish to compete together with your husband,” he stated.  Madeleine was silent.  Perhaps that’s why she later urged so many ladies to be taught to interrupt.  (Applause.)

Years after, she stated, “Abruptly, these items that I believed I used to be going to have the ability to do, I couldn’t do.”

George was midway via his senior yr at Princeton, on a date at a soccer recreation, when phrase unfold that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor.

Quickly after, he drove with a good friend to New York Metropolis to enroll in the Royal Canadian Air Drive.  That was the quickest path on the time to truly get into motion.  Each of them failed the attention take a look at.  Dejected, they went out for drinks and discovered one in every of life’s most painful classes: Watch out for bars with tattoo parlors within the again.  (Laughter.)  George and his good friend emerged with matching tattoos of the proud previous Princeton tiger – on their tails.  (Laughter.)

So in case you’ve had an enormous setback in your time at SFS and didn’t tattoo Jack the Bulldog in your rear, take into account your self a step forward of George.  (Laughter and applause.)

The purpose is that this:  We assume that giants like them all the time had it discovered.  However they went via occasions after they felt profoundly misplaced.  Everyone does.  You probably have no thought what’s subsequent for you, regardless that that’s most likely what everyone seems to be asking you right now, don’t be scared.  That’s okay.  That’s the way in which it’s.

And don’t get knocked off your stride by all of the Instagram and LinkedIn posts by friends celebrating their lives.  It doesn’t imply they’ve obtained all of it discovered, both.  Don’t examine their outsides to your insides.

That additionally goes for the occasions when persons are not at their greatest selves with you.  As Colin used to inform his staff, “We all the time must deal with folks with just a little extra respect than they deserve, as a result of we don’t know what’s happening of their lives.”  Numerous occasions, it’s obtained nothing to do with you.  Simply hold going.

Not lengthy after switching to geology, Colin stored crossing paths with a bunch of men from the ROTC.  He figured he’d give it a strive.  Placing on the uniform, he discovered that it match.

Madeleine went again to highschool to get her Ph.D., which is how she met an excellent educational whose household, like hers, had fled the Nazis: Zbigniew Brzezinski.  When he turned nationwide safety advisor, he employed Madeleine.

George and his tiger returned to Princeton, completed their senior yr, and enlisted within the Marines – the beginning of what become a lifetime of service to the US.

They discovered their method. You’ll, too.

The ultimate lesson is about sticking with it for the lengthy haul.

In Madeleine’s 2019 graduation speech, she drew parallels between 2019 and 1919, and warned of the rising tides of authoritarianism, nationalism, isolationism.

She made the case – as she did so usually – for why service, your service, was essential to assembly the challenges that we face.  She stated, and I quote, “You have to keep in mind that there’s not a web page of this establishment’s hundred-year historical past of which [we’re] proud that was [authored] by a power complainer.  We’re doers.  We’ve got a accountability to not be prisoners of historical past however to form [it].”

There’s not likely any doubt in my thoughts that each one of you will see that a method to serve, if that’s what you select to do.  That’s why you’re right here.  That’s who you might be.

However to make an actual dent, you’ve obtained keep it up.  Progress takes a very long time.  It might really feel such as you’re getting nowhere.  Don’t surrender.

That’s the story of George, Madeleine, and Colin.  Every served in some ways over their lifetimes – as academics and troopers, as diplomats and advocates.  A few of these hats match higher than others.  However they stored at it, regardless of losses, regardless of setbacks, even seeing the progress they labored so arduous to attain get rolled again.

They endured as a result of they discovered to take the lengthy view, to just accept that each trigger price combating for would really outlive them; to goal for the massive wins, but in addition to savor the small ones.

Jakub Hlavka grew up in a tiny city within the Czech Republic.  In 2007, when he was a junior in highschool, he got here throughout Madeleine’s memoir within the native library.  He was so moved by the story he despatched her a word in Czech telling her that she’d impressed him to pursue a profession in worldwide relations.  He didn’t count on to listen to again.  Then he obtained a reply from Madeleine, saying he was making a clever alternative, telling him to maintain at it.

Six years later, Jakub was sitting in her seminar at a grad – as a grad pupil at SFS.  Right this moment, he’s a public coverage professor at USC, the place he tries to emulate Madeleine each single day.

I work with folks like Jakub day by day on the State Division, folks whose trajectory Madeleine helped to form.

Suzy George, my chief of workers, obtained her first job in authorities when Madeleine was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and spent the following a number of many years by her aspect.

Ned Worth, the spokesperson on the State Division, described seeing Madeleine strolling down Prospect Avenue when he was a freshman right here at SFS, feeling like he’d simply noticed Madonna.  (Laughter.)

Sarah McCool, who manages my staff’s schedule, additionally wrote a letter to Madeleine when she was in highschool.  And Madeleine answered her, inviting Sarah to come back meet along with her earlier than a speech that she was giving.

Every of those people – they usually’re right here right now – is a part of Madeleine’s legacy, and our nation is so a lot better for it.

We regularly measure the impression of public servants, particularly in worldwide affairs, with an enormous ruler – the rise and fall of nice powers, conflicts and alliances.  However one of many issues that made Madeleine, Colin, and George nice was that they all the time measured their progress within the steps of the folks round them.

When Colin was secretary, George despatched him a letter that stated, and I quote, “I’m all the time amazed on the method folks presume leaders in authorities focus nearly solely on coverage issues and [on] their very own ups and downs.  However management is concerning the folks below your cost.  An actual chief is aware of what he [or she] leaves behind.”

That’s the factor about this sort of work.  It’s going to all the time outlast us.  So what we depart behind issues.  We’d like others to choose up the place we left off.

Once I look out in any respect of you right now, I see a whole bunch of individuals prepared to hold the baton for one more leg, selecting up the place George, Madeleine, and Colin, and so many others left off.

And so, graduates, as you allow the college of service for a lifetime of service, I hope that you just’ll see that the whole lot it’s essential serve – to serve with objective – is true right here.

Let the family members celebrating you right now assist remind you all the time of the place you got here from.

Let your professors and fellow graduates and all that you just discovered on this extraordinary place remind you of the enjoyment of without end being a pupil.

Know that you’re going to get misplaced, and that the losses and setbacks could effectively outnumber the wins.

And as you keep it up, you’ll discover that even the smallest steps ahead will do greater than maintain you.  They are going to fulfill you.  They are going to raise you up.  They’ll raise up others.  They are going to assist form this world for the higher.

So Class of 2022, we welcome you with open arms to the ranks of the doers, and we will’t wait to see all that you just – all that you just – will get achieved.  Thanks.  (Applause.)



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