Introduction of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
General J.H. Binford Peay, III, Superintendent
3 April 2012
Madame Secretary, Members of the VMI Board of Visitors, members of the International Studies Advisory Board, ladies and gentlemen of the Corps of Cadets, and guests.
Today is a very special day at VMI, for we are privileged to have with us one of the most well-known and influential women in the world community, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. For a college that can claim as an alumnus another famous Secretary of State, George C. Marshall…, Secretary Clinton’s presence today has deep meaning for us. We are a college devoted to producing citizen soldiers and statesmen for a complex world that requires: the securing and advancing of our national security interests; the promotion of peace, stability, and democracy in this world…and our economic prosperity, driven by our free enterprise system. It is in this spirit that we recognize the considerable achievements of Secretary Clinton.
Secretary Clinton was sworn in as the 67th Secretary of State on January 21, 2009. Since then she has traveled across this country and throughout the world advancing the foreign policy goals of the United States. Most recently, we have seen her occupied with the important work of halting proliferation and reducing the production and stockpiles of weapons-grade nuclear materials in the world, and in attempting to resolve the growing problem over Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. She has tirelessly worked the serious challenges of the Middle East and Gulf…while concerning herself with challenges close to home with border disputes, immigration, and drug operations, to name just a few. And, as a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and as Secretary of State, she has been a strong supporter of our nation’s military.
She is known for her advocacy of what has been called “smart power” -- “using the full range of tools at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural – picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation.” She has said that “with smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy.”
Even before she was named Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton was active on the world stage. She traveled to more than 80 countries as a representative of the United States, winning respect as a champion of human rights, democracy, and a civil society. The U.S. Department of State points out that she “inspired women worldwide and helped galvanize a global movement for women’s rights.”
Secretary Clinton has graciously accepted our invitation to come to the Institute today, just returning from an exhausting trip to Turkey, the Gulf and Middle East, to receive the Distinguished Diplomat Award…, an award established in 1996 by the VMI Department of International Studies’ Board of Advisors. The award is presented to men and women who have made a significant commitment to advancing America’s role in world affairs. Since its creation, the award has been presented to, among others: former United States Representative Lee Hamilton; former Ambassador to South Korea and China James Lilly; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean Kirkpatrick; and, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency James Woolsey.
This afternoon, the Institute makes this presentation as a sign of our respect and deep appreciation to Secretary Clinton for her many years of service to our nation and to the world’s community.
I now call on Colonel James Hentz, Head, Department of International Studies and Political Science to present the award , on behalf of the Institute, to The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State.