Celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships
Department of State, Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Senator Feinstein and Members of Congress,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honor to join you tonight to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowships. I want to offer my warmest thanks to Ambassador Marshall and Timothy Sullivan for inviting me today.
Fifteen years after she left us, Pamela Harriman is still very present in our thoughts, and both French and Americans can claim her as part of our history. And indeed she is part of our shared history.
A Grand’ Croix de la Légion d’Honneur, she was the first foreign female diplomat to receive this honor, France’s very highest, for her achievements and for her daily commitment to French-American friendship as American Ambassador in Paris.
Let me quote what President Chirac, the President of France at that time, said at the American Embassy in Paris a few days after Ambassador Harriman’s passing, for a tribute that is unprecedented in my country’s history – I quote :
“Today, the oldest ally of the United States mourns the loss of a great ambassador. Seldom since Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson has America been so well served in France.
It’s an understatement to say that she was an exceptional representative of the United States in France : she instilled in our old alliance the sparkle and brilliance of her own personality. She was the embodiment of elegance and grace. She placed her own deep affection for the French people and her unique knowledge of our country at the service of our friendship.
This grande dame was also a quintessential diplomat. Today, France has lost a friend.” (endquote).
Ladies and Gentlemen, 15 years later we still deeply miss Pamela Harriman. I was on President Chirac’s foreign policy team at that time, and had the immense privilege of knowing Ambassador Harriman personally. And I am glad to see in the audience a couple of her former aids, including Ambassador Don Bandler who was Ambassador Harriman’s DCM at that time.
So we all miss Ambassador Harriman so deeply, but her legacy has never been more alive than today. By her legendary life and her so many accomplishments, this extraordinary woman exemplifies the unique bond that unites America with Europe and with France in particular.
As we all know, she embodied England but also post-war France, where she studied. She attended the Sorbonne in Paris, and then took her very first steps as a journalist at the newspaper Libération.
In the challenging times that we are going through, Pamela Harriman reminds us every day that the values that our two countries share, the values that America and Europe have in common, are more than ever our best tool, our best moral compass to confront together the current challenges we face.
That’s what these wonderful Foreign Service Fellowships are about : helping American students to discover France as well as Britain in a truly exceptional way, forging lasting relationships and thus consolidating the transatlantic partnership that is today more relevant and important than ever for Europe and for America.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pamela Harriman was and will remain a source of inspiration and admiration for all of us, and we French will never forget her and will always cherish her legacy./.