• Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023


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Biden to Lead Tributes to Madeleine Albright

WASHINGTON — President Biden and much of the nation’s top leadership will gather on Wednesday to pay tribute to former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright at a time when the West is confronting the very rise of authoritarianism she often warned about.

Mr. Biden, who is leading an international coalition backing Ukraine in its war against Russian invaders, will join former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and a host of lawmakers, diplomats and other luminaries for a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral a month after Ms. Albright died of cancer at age 84.

As an immigrant fleeing Communism in Eastern Europe who rose to become America’s ambassador to the United Nations and the first woman to serve as secretary of state, Ms. Albright spent much of her career focusing on the perils of autocracy and advocating resolve by the world’s democracies. In her final guest essay for The New York Times in February before the Russian invasion, she called for “forceful diplomatic pushback and increasing economic and military support for Ukraine.”

The cathedral service at 11 a.m. will bring together a who’s who of the Democratic political and foreign policy establishments along with some Republican admirers. In addition to Mr. Biden, tributes will be delivered by Mr. Clinton, who named her secretary of state in 1997, and Hillary Clinton, who as first lady was instrumental in pushing for her appointment and later filled her office at the State Department herself.

Ms. Albright was the third former secretary of state to die in just over a year, following George P. Shultz and Colin L. Powell, and her peers will be represented by the current secretary, Antony J. Blinken, just back from a visit to Ukraine, as well as former secretaries Condoleezza Rice and John F. Kerry. Susan E. Rice and Samantha Power, who both followed her at the United Nations and now hold senior posts in the Biden administration, also plan to attend.

Other senior officials expected include Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader; Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III; Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director; and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser. Many of today’s key national security figures counted Ms. Albright as a mentor.

Ms. Albright had a long relationship with the cathedral. All three of her daughters attended the Beauvoir School and graduated from the National Cathedral School, both affiliated with the cathedral, and she led the Beauvoir board of directors in the 1970s. At the time of her death, she served on the Cathedral Chapter, the institution’s governing board.

Her daughters — Anne K. Albright, Alice P. Albright and Katharine M. Albright — will offer memorials to her. Readings will be offered by Condoleezza Rice; Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state and a protégé of Ms. Albright; Rabbi David N. Saperstein, a former ambassador at large for international religious freedom; and Winifred S. Freund, a college classmate of the former secretary and her closest friend.

The pallbearers will be former members of her security detail at the United Nations and State Department, and musical numbers will be offered by two performers she befriended, Chris Botti, the trumpeter, and Herbie Hancock, the pianist.