It looked more like a festive welcoming party for a rock star than a goodbye on Friday afternoon as staff gathered at the State Department building in Washington to bide farewell to their boss Hillary Rodham-Clinton, as she spent her last day at "the office.".
Amid claps, cheers, "thank you" placards held high and many smartphone cameras flashing from her staff, the 67th Secretary of State walked out for her 2:30 farewell press conference on Friday, Feb. 1. Deputy Secretary Williams J. Burns warmly thanked Clinton for her service, saying, “From that first day on, you’ve touched the lives of millions and millions of people around the world, you have left a profoundly positive mark on American foreign policy, and you have done enormous good for all of us and for the country we serve. We will miss you deeply, but none of us.”
Burns added that her staff will never forget Clinton’s “extraordinary leadership.”
The globe-trotting, Clinton, who racked up impressive flyer miles during her four-year tenure, setting a record 112 countries visited, warmly thanked all whom she worked with in the department. Still wearing her new glasses for vision problems stemming from her concussion and blood clot, Clinton spoke of the four years spent at the State Department, in foreign countries and those long hours on airplanes, which elicited a bit of a chuckle from the staff.
She spoke on the how rewarding serving has been, adding “..I’m proud of the work we’ve done to elevate diplomacy and development, to serve the nation we all love, to understand the challenges, the threats, and the opportunities that the United States faces, and to work with all our heart and all of our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted, and our values are respected. As I look back over these past four years, I am very proud of the work we have done together.”
Sec. Clinton also touched on the difficulties of the job, mentioning Friday’s suicide bomb attack on the U.S embassy in Turkey, where two people were killed and others injured.
“Of course, we live in very complex and even dangerous times, as we saw again just today at our Embassy in Ankara, where we were attacked and lost one of our Foreign Service nationals and others injured. But I spoke with the Ambassador and the team there, I spoke with my Turkish counterpart, and I told them how much we valued their commitment and their sacrifice,” added Clinton.
There was more laughter when she said she would greatly miss the staff and may dial up Ops just to chat. (Click on the video above to hear her entire farewell).
The Secretary of State’s last days encountered a bit of turbulence, not from any difficult foreign diplomat or tough negotiations with heads of states but from her own government officials. She was dragged before a Benghazi hearing and pounded on by the likes of Senators’ John McCain (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Paul even said he would have fired Clinton if he was president. All this soon after recovering from a hospital stay for a blood clot in the brain caused by a fall she took when she fainted from a bout with the flu.
Clinton’s resignation became official at 4:00 p.m. Friday at which time Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) was sworn as the 68th Secretary of State by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, in a quiet ceremony at the Capitol.