In a speech before the unveiling, current Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared how Clinton used diplomacy in her former role to spread human rights values across the world
Hillary Clinton's official secretary of state portrait was unveiled in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, more than a decade after she left the role.
Clinton, 75, served as the nation's 67th secretary of state for four years during President Barack Obama's first term, vacating her Senate seat to assume the senior cabinet position. At Tuesday's ceremony, current Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of her achievements in the role, particularly in the realm of diplomacy and advancing human rights.
"She recognized that the days of engaging primarily with governments were over — that shaping our diplomacy in a way that meets people where they are depends on our ability to listen, to learn, to hear them," Blinken said. "Students, youth leaders, business owners, women and girls, journalists, human rights defenders, democracy activists — these, too, were America’s essential partners."
After attesting to Clinton's assertiveness in getting other nations to respect women's rights, he added that she was also "the first secretary of state to declare and uphold an inalienable truth: gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."
"A lot of what’s now recognized as universal, what’s commonly accepted, Secretary Clinton helped make it that way," he said.
Secretary Clinton shared a few words of her own before the portrait was unveiled, reflecting on the State Department's vision under her leadership, which involved "taking a longer-term view about where we wanted to be, what kind of world we wanted to create for our children and our grandchildren."
"When I came into this building now 14 years ago — hard to believe — I knew there was something very special about this place, and that having the singular honor of leading the State Department and USAID would be an incredible both personal and professional experience," she said. "I had no idea the level of talent and expertise that resides here in the building and across all of our embassies, consuls and other outposts throughout the world."
"I am so grateful that I got to spend those four years criss-crossing the globe with many of you – endless miles travelled, oceans crossed — in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and security," she said. "When I think about the myriad of challenges our country and the world face ... what makes me sleep a little better at night is knowing that there are people in our government getting up every day trying to make the right decisions."
Clinton — who now co-teaches a course at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs titled "Inside the Situation Room" — reunited with many former White House and State Department staffers at the ceremony, including now-White House Cabinet Secretary Evan Ryan, who married Blinken in 2002.
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