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Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at the Distinguished Civilian Service Award Ceremony for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton


By As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey, Washington, D.C.
GENERAL MARTIN E. DEMPSEY: Secretaries, fellow general and flag officers, dedicated military and civilian servants here in the Pentagon, and our guests today from the Department of State, happy Valentine's Day. (Laughter.) You know, the lore of martyrdom says that St. Valentine was actually martyred because he was marrying soldiers who were forbidden to marry by the Roman law of the day. So he was a man who loved soldiers and servicemen and women. And it's fitting in that regard that we're here to honor our recent and great secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who herself, by the way, has been an enormous champion of military servicemen and women and their families. So it is a privilege to honor one of our nation's most dedicated public servants.

This is the highest award that I can present to a civilian. And the secretary is no stranger to awards. We know that you've got eight honorary degrees, a George C. Marshall Foundation award, a Woodrow Wilson award for public service, an airport named after you -- (Laughter) -- 11 straight years as the most admired woman in the world, and a Grammy. I didn't know about the Grammy, but she actually has a Grammy. I'm jealous of that, by the way. (Laughter.) She has a Grammy for the spoken word of her book, "It Takes a Village." And she was also named in 2007 as the Irish-American of the year. Now I'm really jealous. (Laughter.)

Your favorite secretary of state, William Seward, didn't earn quite as much recognition, although he did have that rather clever purchase up in Alaska, but you do have similar backgrounds -- effective politicians with roots in New York and New York state, faithfully serving presidents that were once your rivals. Of course, Seward went on a trip around the world after he retired and, as you know, our secretary has flown enough miles to circle the globe 36 times. In fact, you've been airborne for the equivalent of 87 days during your tenure as secretary of state. That's a lot of airplane food. (Laughter.) Along the way, you've been an exceptional representative of the men and women of the Department of State, working tirelessly in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and to ensure we had a strong coalition in Libya, building consensus for unprecedented sanctions against Iran, and which for those of us in uniform, we were very much appreciative of so that we can avoid the use of force, although remaining ready to do so, if necessary.

And at home, you've strengthened your own institution, the Department of State. You've moved diplomacy into the 21st century. You've recognized that there are limits to hard power and that we need both hard power and soft power. You've harnessed innovative ways to accomplish engagement, including social media and global town halls, all the while remembering that it's the investment of your personal time that builds relationships. And you've been one of the -- as I said at the beginning, one of the staunchest supporters of the military, in my personal experience, more than any secretary of state in my career.

Now, I expect you'll slow down a bit. Maybe you can add a Tony or an Oscar to your Grammy award. (Laughter.) But before you go, I'd be honored if you would allow me to add to the list of your distinctions with the award of this Joint Staff Medal. Would you join me here, Madam Secretary?

ANNOUNCER: General Dempsey will now present Secretary Clinton with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award. Attention to orders. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton distinguished herself by exceptionally superior service while serving as the secretary of state from 21 January 2009 to 1 February 2013.

Throughout her tenure, Secretary Clinton has significantly provided outstanding support of all operational efforts of the joint military forces worldwide. Executing her smart power strategy of combining military strength with United States capacities in global economics, developmental aid, and technology, she enhanced the coordinated role of diplomatic and defense initiatives in the international arena.

Capitalizing on this effort, she instituted the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Developmental Review for her department that mirrored the military's Quadrennial Defense Review, resulting in a consolidated interagency approach to all foreign endeavors.

Secretary Clinton's success in cultivating a more powerful Department of State, a larger international affairs budget, and expanded role in global economic issues greatly facilitated the role of our combatant commanders and the respect of our military troops on every continent. Visiting more than 100 countries and logging more than 500,000 miles of travel, she has been an exceptional example of our nation's commitment to fostering better relations abroad and to directly supporting our developed troops in those areas.

Most noteworthy, as evidenced in all her years of federal service, she has consistently been a staunch advocate of all personnel programs and initiatives that have enhanced the lives of our military personnel and their families. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton reflect great credit upon herself, the Joint Staff, and the Department of Defense. (Applause.)