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Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at Signing of the Declaration of Learning

Remarks from Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
January 30, 2013

Thank you. Thank you all very, very much. This is one of the last events that I will have the great honor of doing as Secretary of State, and I can’t imagine a more important one, because of what this means for our ability to reach out and connect with not only our own students, but all of our citizens and people across the world.

I want to thank Marcee for her stewardship of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. I want to thank Ambassador Capricia Marshall, our Head of Protocol. They have spearheaded what we call the Patrons of Diplomacy, and a number of you were part of that campaign and generously supported it. With your help, we established a permanent endowment to care for these rooms and their collections. And today, we launch this partnership to share them with the world.

Now, we have the centerpiece of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms here, as Marcee was telling you – the desk on which our founders signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War with Britain and forever sealing our independence. Now, we rarely move this desk – (laughter) – from its spot in the John Quincy Adams Room just two doors away. We never move it off the 8th floor. We spent more time worrying about moving the desk – (laughter) – than we have probably on anything else in the last month.

So unfortunately, except for the thousands who availed themselves of the wonderful tours that we run here, very few people have actually seen it for themselves. But the Declaration of Learning I am about to sign will help transport the story and the significance of this desk along with many other pieces of our history to anyone with an internet connection.

Now, for educators, this partnership will offer valuable resources for students and all the lifelong learners out there. It will help bring history to life and, we hope, inspire them to learn and achieve even more. Some of the students who will explore the Diplomatic Reception Rooms online may even become interested in a career in diplomacy. So I want to thank all the institutions that are active partners in this ambitious initiative, the leaders who have committed the time and resources, and the many team members who will help make this goal a reality.

And I particularly want to thank all of our Patrons of Diplomacy. You really saw our vision. You have worked to realize that vision. We are immensely grateful. And our partners have selected diplomacy as the first topic for this collaboration because, after all, diplomacy is not something that is confined to the State Department or reserved for special occasions. In this complicated, connected world, diplomacy is a daily practical occurrence. It’s about people learning from each other and building understandings through the kinds of interactions that happen millions of times each day in person and online. In fact, I think we need to practice diplomacy from the lunch table to the board room to the government offices.

These rooms hold special significance for me. They have certainly been the backdrops for hundreds of diplomatic initiatives and celebrations and events every year. I’ve greeted heads of state, royalty, a fair number of celebrities. We’ve hosted peace talks, we’ve held strategic dialogues, we’ve opened the doors of the State Department to people from all over the world. And every time I see Ben Franklin up there watching over us, I’m reminded of the deep diplomatic history that we have built from our very beginnings. So it’s been a tremendous honor for me to be part of that history and to share the stories and even some of the lessons of American diplomacy with a global audience.

So now, I’d like to invite the leaders of our 13 institutional partners to stand with me as I sign this Declaration of Learning. We’ll take some pictures. After I sign it, we’ll all be able to take a deep collective breath out because the desk will be fine. (Laughter.) That is our plan and what we have prepared for, but please join me.

(The declaration was signed.)

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