Madeleine Albright, the 64th Secretary of State, was the first female to hold the office in the history of the United States.
How Madeleine Albright broke barriers and made history
04:16 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

President Joe Biden will deliver a eulogy for Madeleine Albright next week when the former secretary of state is remembered at a funeral in Washington.

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will also speak at Wednesday’s funeral at the National Cathedral.

When Albright died last month at age 84, Biden remembered the onetime top diplomat as “a force for goodness, grace, and decency – and for freedom.”

“When I think of Madeleine, I will always remember her fervent faith that ‘America is the indispensable nation,’” Biden wrote in a statement.

At her funeral next week, Albright’s three daughters will also speak, and musicians Chris Botti, Judy Collins and Herbie Hancock will perform tributes.

Albright was a central figure in former President Clinton’s administration, first serving as his US ambassador to the United Nations before he picked her in his second term to be the first female secretary of state. In office, she championed the expansion of NATO, pushed for the alliance to intervene in the Balkans to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing, sought to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons and promoted human rights and democracy across the globe.

Clinton last month similarly remembered his former top diplomat as “a passionate force for freedom, democracy, and human rights” whose death “is an immense loss to the world in a time when we need the lessons of her life the most.”

“When the end of the Cold War ushered in a new era of global interdependence, she became America’s voice at the UN, then took the helm at the State Department, where she was a passionate force for freedom, democracy and human rights,” he said in a statement.

“Madeleine’s passing is an immense loss to the world in a time when we need the lessons of her life the most,” he continued, adding that both he and the former first lady “will always be deeply grateful for the wonderful friendship we shared and the unfailingly wise counsel she gave us over so many years.”

Born Marie Jana Korbelova, the daughter of a Czechoslovakian diplomat, in Prague in 1937, Albright escaped then-Czechoslovakia with her family 10 days after the Nazi invasion. Her experience growing up in communist Yugoslavia and then fleeing to the US made her a lifelong opponent of totalitarianism and fascism. 

Albright was a face of US foreign policy in the decade between the end of the Cold War and the war on terror triggered by the September 11, 2001, attacks, an era heralded by President George H.W. Bush as a “new world order.” The US, particularly in Iraq and the Balkans, built international coalitions and occasionally intervened militarily to roll back autocratic regimes, and Albright – a self-identified “pragmatic idealist” who coined the term “assertive multilateralism” to describe the Clinton administration’s foreign policy – drew from her experience growing up in a family that fled the Nazis and communists in mid-20th century Europe to shape her worldview.

CNN’s Devan Cole and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.