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Remarks at the Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
April 8, 2008

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SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much Nancy for that wonderful introduction. We are delighted that Nancy Brinker is our Chief of Protocol. Of course, she has done a great deal from the private sector to make America a better place for women and we also consider her to be a great exemplar of the kinds of spirit that we are, in fact, celebrating today. So thank you very much, Nancy. (Applause.)

The Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy recognize that all sectors of American society, from individuals to schools to foundations and associations and corporations, actively contribute to advancing America’s ideals through public diplomacy.

I announced this awards program in January of last year at the Department’s first Private Sector Summit for Public Diplomacy. It is the most prestigious honor that the Department of State can bestow on American citizens who are making outstanding contributions to public diplomacy, both at home and abroad, and it reflects my conviction that the solutions to the challenges of the 21st century will come from all sectors of American society working together.

I'd like to thank Karen Hughes, the former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, who is one of the founders of this award. She's here with us today. I'd also like to thank Curtis Chin, the U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, for seeding the concept for this award.

The Benjamin Franklin Awards honor activities and programs that provide hope and opportunity in education, culture, and information. They serve to highlight how American citizens and organizations are working to empower, educate, and inspire both here in the United States and abroad. And these awards are going to be presented in four categories:

In the area of non-profits, we are pleased to recognize Search for Common Ground for its pioneering work to promote American values of respect and tolerance.

In the area of academic institutions, we recognize the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy for having evolved into the world's premier research facility in this field.

We recognize the outstanding work today in the corporate category of Johnson and Johnson Incorporated for demonstrating the generous and caring spirit of America’s private sector.

And finally, our individual recipient today is Dave Brubeck. And Mr. Brubeck, I just have to say something to you. As a little girl I grew up on the sounds of Dave Brubeck because my dad was your biggest fan. (Laughter.) And I want to thank you for your patriotism and your leadership in representing America by introducing the language, the sounds and the spirit of jazz to new generations around the world.

I had an opportunity to visit for a few moments with the awardees before this ceremony and they are an inspiring group of people. They're committed to spreading a positive vision of hope and opportunity that is rooted in America's deepest traditions: belief in freedom, justice, opportunity and respect for all.

So in closing, I want to thank all of you for coming today to recognize the importance of public diplomacy and the vital contributions made by our awardees. And now, it’s my pleasure to turn the ceremony over to Jeremy Curtin, who is the head of our international information programs, and he's going to proceed with the presenting of these awards.

But again, I want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to public diplomacy, to the commitment to the spread of freedom and ideals, but especially to our awardees, we can't thank you enough for all that you've already done and all that we know you're going to continue to do. Thank you very much. (Applause.)


Released on April 8, 2008

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