Biden, Clintons to deliver tributes at Madeleine Albright’s funeral

WASHINGTON — Current and former presidents, US government officials, secretaries of state, foreign ministers, ambassadors and a large congressional delegation are expected to attend the funeral service Wednesday of the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

President Joe Biden will deliver the first tribute at the service, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, at Washington National Cathedral. Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are also scheduled to give remarks.

Biden became the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997, shortly before Albright became secretary of state, nominated as the first woman to be America’s top diplomat by President Clinton. Hillary Clinton was first lady during Albright’s tenure and they became close friends.

Organizers are planning for 1,400 people to attend the funeral service, which is expected to last about two hours. Albright’s burial is scheduled for immediately after the service and will be attended only by family.

Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Condoleezza Rice are expected to attend the memorial service.

Other attendees include several members of Biden’s Cabinet and top aides, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Millley and US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power.

Congressional leaders who are expected to attend include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The president and prime minister of Kosovo and the president of Georgia are among foreign leaders planning to attend.

Albright died of cancer at the age of 84 in March, her family said. She was born on May 15, 1937, in Prague, where her father was a diplomat, and her family fled Czechoslovakia when she was 2 years old to escape the Nazis. They initially moved to England, before settling in Denver in 1948. Albright became a US citizen in 1957, and graduated from Wellesley College. She later earned her doctorate in public law and government at Columbia University.

President Clinton named Albright the US ambassador to the United Nations shortly after he was inaugurated in 1993, and nominated her to be his secretary of state three years later. She was confirmed in 1997 by a vote of 99-0. At the time, she was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the US government.

After she became secretary of state, Albright found out from a Washington Post reporter that she was of Jewish descent. She had been raised Roman Catholic, and was “stunned” when reporter Michael Dobbs’ research showed that “three of my grandparents and numerous other family members had died in the Holocaust,” Albright told Politico in 2012.

After leaving the public office, Albright went on to teach at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and became a prolific author, writing seven New York Times bestsellers.

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.

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