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Happy Birthday, Madam Secretary!

The Embassy of the Czech Republic hosted a gala dinner on May 16, 2017, to celebrate the 80th birthday of Madeleine Korbelová Albright, the first woman to serve as the United States Secretary of State.  

In her remarks, Albright said that she is proud of her Czech heritage and considers herself as “Korbelová,” her Czech maiden name. She further said, “I wish my native country the best of all possible futures with the help of the United States because I do believe that we are the indispensible nation…”       

The evening began with Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček welcoming guests while also speaking of Albright’s dedication over the years to the Czech Republic and its many transformations throughout history.     

Kmoníček then delivered a message from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek stating, “From our hearts in the heart of Europe: Thank you for not forgetting your Czech roots and standing by us in the crucial moments of our modern history.”    

Following the message, Kmoníček presented Albright with a Bohemian garnet brooch, handmade in the shape of a heart and gifted by Granát Turnov Cooperative, while the audience of Czech and American dignitaries and friends spontaneously broke out in singing “Happy Birthday.”Former Czech and UN Ambassador Martin Palouš gave her a bouquet of flowers to commemorate the occasion.           

As Secretary of State and thereafter, Albright was a close friend to late President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel. Albright, after receiving the heart-shaped garnet, reflected on the history of her native country saying, “It really was a difference when Václav Havel appeared. He was the epitome of what people thought needed to be a president, philosopher, and it made us all very proud to have him as a symbol…I had the great pleasure of taking him out to Capitol Hill and then having a chance to be his friend.”         

Tennis champion Martina Navrátilová also sent a video message congratulating Albright on her birthday and wishing her many more prosperous years ahead. 

Czech pianist Tomáš Kačo closed the evening performing his own arrangement of the jazz classic, “My Funny Valentine,” and his composition “Gypsy Soul,” as a musical tribute to Albright.      

Happy Birthday, Madam Secretary!


Madeleine Albright Birthday Celebrations