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Watch speech here. Start video at 18:30.
Read transcripts of all Biden's new cabinet picks here.
Good afternoon. Mr. President-elect, Vice President-elect Harris, thank you for your trust and your confidence. If confirmed by the United States Senate, I will do everything I can to earn it. Mr. President-elect, working for you, having you as a mentor and friend has been the greatest privilege of my professional life. So many people have brought me to this day. From college classmates to band mates, my colleagues in the Clinton and Obama administrations, in the Senate, and at the State Department. I thank them all. And I ask forgiveness for my insatiable appetite for bad puns. Mostly, I’d like to thank my family. Sisters and sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, my wonderful in-laws, the Ryans, and especially my wife, Evan Ryan, and our children, John and Leila. They are truly my greatest blessings.
For my family, as for so many generations of Americans, America has literally been the last best hope on earth. My grandfather, Maurice Blinken, fled pogroms in Russia and made a new life in America. His son, my father, Donald Blinken, served in the United States Air Force during World War II, and then as a United States ambassador. He is my role model and my hero. His wife, Vera Blinken, fled communist Hungary as a young girl and helped future generations of refugees come to America. My mother, Judith Pisar, builds bridges between America and the world through arts and culture. She is my greatest champion.
And my late stepfather, Samuel Pisar, he was one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps. At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star. He ran to the tank, the hatch opened, an African-American GI looked down at him. He got down on his knees and said the only three words that he knew in English that his mother taught him before the war, God bless America.
That’s who we are. That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly. Now we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility because, as the president-elect said, we can’t solve all the world’s problems alone. We need to be working with other countries. We need their cooperation. We need their partnership. But also confidence because America at its best still has a greater ability than any other country on earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time. And that’s where the men and women of the State Department, foreign service officers, civil service, that’s where they come in. I’ve witnessed their passion, their energy, their courage up close. I’ve seen what they do to keep us safe, to make us more prosperous. I’ve seen them add luster to a word that deserves our respect, diplomacy. If confirmed, it will be the honor of my life to help guide them. And so thank you all. And may God bless America.