Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) on March 23 released the following statement on the passing of Madeleine Albright:

“As the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright proudly represented our country as a champion of human rights and democracy. Secretary Albright immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee and became a brilliant leader in the international community, shaping our country’s foreign policy for decades to come.

“Today, we mourn the loss of this iconic trailblazer, who inspired a generation of women and girls to work in national security, and we celebrate the immeasurable contributions she made around the world.”

“My heart breaks with the passing of my dear friend Madeleine Albright,” said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento). “The world got to know Madeleine as a force of nature, an indisputable titan of the world stage, and a voice of reason in the toughest times. She tackled some of the world’s toughest foreign policy and human rights crises. She empowered others by encouraging them to celebrate the intersection of culture, people, and ideas – and enabled them to harness their strength and hope.

“Yet, through it all, she brought her own charm, wit, and sophistication to every room she entered. Madeleine was a special person, an extraordinary American, and I was lucky to call her a close friend. We must all continue to honor her memory by following her vibrant light and learning from the courage she carried and promoted in others.

“My prayers are with all of her loved ones and friends during this difficult time. We will all miss Madeleine greatly.”

“Madeleine Albright was the first woman to serve as secretary of state, but above all else, she was a tireless champion of democracy at home and abroad,” said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside). “I had the opportunity and privilege to interact with her in the past, and deeply admired her leadership, strength, and courage.

“We lost a giant today. May she rest in peace and continue to inspire us every day.”

A native of Prague who came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1948, Albright was appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and later secretary of state (1997-2001) by President Bill Clinton. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her family announced on Wednesday that she died of cancer at the age of 84.

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