WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 3, 2011) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton was honored June 2, 2011, at the National Building Museum with the 2011 George C. Marshall Foundation Award for a career of distinguished public service.

Not unlike her predecessor, George C. Marshall, who served as Secretary of State during President Harry S. Truman's administration, Clinton was been chosen by the foundation "for her dignity and integrity of character, for her devotion to creating and perpetuating free and democratic institutions, and for promoting appropriate economic development that will allow them to flourish," said a foundation press release.

The future chief of staff of the Army and current commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, shares the foundation's opinion of Clinton.

"I have I have a deep admiration for Secretary Hillary Clinton," said Odierno. "During confirmation as secretary of state, she remarked, 'with every challenge comes an opportunity to find promise and possibility in the face of adversity and complexity.'"

"She is a proven leader of the highest distinction," Odierno said. "She is not afraid to confront our nation's most difficult challenges head on. And like George C. Marshall, it has been the content of her character that allowed her to do so," he said.

Odierno was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Gen. Martin Dempsey as the next Army chief of staff, pending senate confirmation later this year.

"Over the years, our military has benefited greatly from her dedication to national service," Odierno continued. "Secretary Clinton has long been a strong advocate for our armed forces: as a senator from New York, and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Her advocacy for quality military and support to our families is well known."

Michelle Bachelet, the first female president of Chile, after being the first female defense minister, and now the first executive director of UN Women, spoke by video to the gathered dignitaries and guests -- including retired Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia.

"Secretary Clinton is known worldwide for her intelligence, her compassion and her steadfast commitment to her beliefs, whether on democracy and human rights, racial and gender equality, or the need for strong leadership on issues such as nuclear nonproliferation and a sustainable planet," said Bachelet, who was at a meeting of UN women and Egyptian women's groups in Cairo.

"Last year, when following the earthquake in Chile, in the last weeks of my presidency, she personally flew to Santiago to offer assistance, saying, and I quote her, 'we'll be here to help when others leave.'"

Madeleine K. Albright, the first female secretary of state, appointed by President Bill Clinton and unanimously confirmed by a Senate vote of 99 to 0 in 1997, began by reminding everyone of the pivotal role that economic development plays in the life and progress of nations.

"We are so fortunate to have Hillary Clinton as America's secretary of state," she said. "In little more than two years, she has helped President Obama to restore our country's reputation and leadership, lent fresh energy to partnerships across the globe, and created a new foundation for progress on issues that range from terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation to human development and democracy."

The one-time secretary of state then introduced the current secretary.

"I'm especially honored when I think of the prior recipients of this very distinguished award, including my colleague Secretary (of Defense Robert) Gates, whom I had the honor of introducing in the State Department in 2009," Clinton said.

Other recipients of the award include former chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Kohl; the first recipient of the award in 1997, former President George H. W. Bush; retired Gen. Colin Powell; David Rockefeller; retired Senator John W. Warner; and in 2010, Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx.

"I think a lot about George Marshall," Clinton said. "Leading our nation in war as a general, in peace as Secretary of State, and later as Defense Secretary, he was, they say, the only man, according to President Truman, who could get along with Franklin Roosevelt, the congress, Winston Churchill, the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And he did so while never avoiding the hard issues, while always sharing his best advice, speaking his mind."

Clinton made reference to not only how relevant the issues Marshall raised following World War II are today, but also how the cost of the four-year Marshall Plan, which was $13 billion then and would be worth $120 billion today, might deter some from following in his footsteps.

Marshall knew, she said, the importance of economic growth to build stability, democracy and security -- not only in Europe, but everywhere. And he knew that the people of Europe needed economic opportunity to rebuild their livelihood, recover their dignity, and reset their destiny.

"I often think about whether we would today be able to summon that kind of vision of a future that would be in America's interest, but would require continuing sacrifice," Clinton said.

Truman and Marshall, Clinton said, told the American people that despite the cessation of sacrifice the war had brought, more sacrifice would be needed -- in providing for the "very enemies that you have spent years trying to defeat."

"It's almost unimaginable that the case was made, that the political environment accepted that case and understood what it meant for us," Clinton said. "We can look back now and see how the investment reaped dividends in so many different ways."

Those dividends included prompting European governments to de-nationalize their industries and strengthen their labor laws, pre-empted the westward creep of communism, and helped the United States lay the foundation for winning the Cold War, Clinton said. It also helped create strong allies for the United States, and laid the groundwork for the European Union.

Because the United States has been mindful of the lessons of the Marshall Plan and all of the years since, Clinton said, the State Department began an investment conference June 3, 2011, with many who were in the audience that night, to help Iraq achieve sustainable economic growth after being devastated by tyranny and war.

Additionally, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, she said, the United States is attempting to apply Marshall principles, to target assistance for private enterprise and ramp up existing energy infrastructures such as the electricity grid to attract investment and promote growth.

"Today, as the 'Arab spring' unfolds across the Middle East and North Africa, some principles of the plan apply again, especially in Egypt and Tunisia," Clinton said. "As Marshall did in 1947, we must understand that the roots of the revolution and the problems it sought to address are not just political, but profoundly economic as well."

Marshall advocated, she said, that the United States should never lose sight of the real bottom line. Prosperity and freedom abroad mean security and opportunity here at home. And Marshall said the purpose of our policy should be, 'the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.'

"General Marshall, let me reassure you that the United States is committed to the future of those willing to do the hard work of political and economic reform, to build democratic institutions and open markets, to respect and protect human rights, and create conditions for men and women to fulfill their own God-given potential," Clinton said.

Page last updated Mon June 6th, 2011 at 09:09