Durbin Honors Former Secretary Of State Madeleine Albright On Senate Floor

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin paid tribute to Albright, shared her impactful story from refugee to first woman to serve as Secretary of State

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor honoring the life and legacy of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve in the position. In his remarks, Durbin spoke about Albright’s upbringing as a refugee from Czechoslovakia, and how this experience shaped her as a diplomat and tireless advocate for democracy. 


“Last week, America and the world lost another trailblazing woman and defender of justice and democracy, and a friend. Madeleine Korbel came to the United States at the age of 11 as a refugee. Her family had been driven out of their native Czechoslovakia twice by murderous regimes – in 1938 by the Nazis and 10 years later by communists. Those searing childhood upheavals helped to produce in this woman a lifelong vigilance against dictators, and a fierce commitment to democracy,” Durbin said. 


Durbin went on to express his gratitude for Albright’s diplomatic work on behalf of the U.S., particularly her success in expanding NATO.


“In 1997, she made history. She became America’s first woman Secretary of State, under President Bill Clinton – having previously served as our nation’s ambassador to the United Nations,” Durbin said. “She was a hard-line critic of tyrants and despots who advocated the policy of ‘assertive multilateralism,’ and she called the United States ‘the indispensable nation.’ She believed that the best hope for a free and peaceful world lay in America exercising leadership and working with the family of democratic nations to protect democracy, just as we are today in Ukraine.”


As Eastern Europe continues to face physical threats from Vladimir Putin, Durbin acknowledged that Albright’s legacy in expanding NATO is now offering protection to three nations previously threatened by Soviet rule.


“She was deeply committed to NATO. As Secretary of State, she supported NATO’s expansion to include Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, three nations that had lived under the boot heel of Soviet oppression. Today, all three nations are providing a haven for Ukrainian civilians – mostly women and children – who are fleeing Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and barbaric war on that young democracy,” Durbin said.


Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.