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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks upon return of the remains of Amb. Pamela Harriman
Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, February 8, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, February 10, 1997
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Winston Churchill, dear and devoted friends of Pamela Harriman and the Churchill family. Today we are assembled here to welcome home a great American. Ambassador Pamela Harriman served her country with skill, grace, eloquence and elegance. We have listened to her son, Mr. Winston Churchill, describe her life, her warmth and the love that she brought to all of us. Those qualities were evident as well on the broader stage, and Pamela Harriman thrived on that broader stage.
She entered this world in the isolated countryside of the 1920s England. She left it in Paris as America's Ambassador to the city of light. Throughout her years among us, she seemed often larger than life. Her experiences entwined with the power, tragedy, challenge and triumph of this turbulent century.
Today, Ambassador Pamela Harriman returns to our shores, having crossed the Atlantic for the last time. She was not born an American. She became an American. It was a question of choice, and nobody loved this country more or cherished American values more than Pamela Harriman.
How well she represented us all. How much she contributed to the renewal of friendship with our great and oldest ally. How deeply she understood the imperative of American leadership and the importance of a strong partnership across the Atlantic.
President Chirac spoke for France when he called her a peerless diplomat. Let me speak today for President Clinton by saying that she was a master of the personal touch, the touch that separates simple communication from true diplomacy.
Earlier today, France bestowed on Pamela Harriman its highest award, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. Clearly, Ambassador Harriman succeeded in her last post, because she understood the greatness of France's leaders, its writers and its artists. Yes, she understood the grandeur of France, but France, by honoring her, showed that it understood the grandeur of Pamela Harriman.
Not long before she died, during my first full day as Secretary, I met with Ambassador Harriman. We talked about France, about Europe, and about diplomacy. I was so looking forward to working with her when she came back home. How wonderfully she celebrated life. How profoundly we will miss her.
In thinking about Ambassador Harriman's life, I am reminded of something that Eleanor Roosevelt once said. "You can never really live anyone else's life. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself." Ambassador Pamela Harriman will be remembered for what she made of herself. To all who knew her or had the pleasure of working with her, she was always a source of light, not a reflection of it.
And so with the passing of an American star this week, the city of light is a little dimmer and America is diminished. May God bless and comfort her family and her many, many friends, and may we always remember her with a smile.

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