SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am thrilled to see all of you here and I see reindeer – Rudolph is here. It is absolutely a delight to welcome all of you to the Benjamin Franklin Room on the eighth floor of the State Department. And I’m so glad to hear children’s voices and we’re so happy to have the Children’s Chorus and the ballet dancers, who you will see in a minute.
But I wanted to welcome all of you and to tell you how happy I am that you could come and be with us this holiday season, and to welcome all of the ambassadors, the diplomatic representatives, and then the – most important to me are all the families who can’t have someone that you love with you for the holidays. It is the reason why I started this party last year and it’s grown, which is the good news. The bad news is that means there are more people who don’t have a mother or a father or a sister or a brother or a husband or a wife or a child. I mean, there’s just – unfortunately, in the world that we find ourselves in now, there are so many parts of the world that you cannot go to be with your family member.
Now, I want to also thank Time Inc. and InStyle Magazine, which very generously partnered with us to decorate this year. And I’m delighted that these wonderful decorations were designed by a renowned designer by the name of David Stark. And I am particularly pleased that we have so many people here who are part of what we try to do in the State Department to entertain and create a sense of holiday spirit and particularly for those of you at this party.
The Family Liaison Office team has done so much to reach out to family members and to support you, and I want to thank them in particular. And I also want to thank the Military District of Washington and the Foreign Affairs Recreational Association and so much more. But let’s give a round of applause for the Children’s Chorus of Washington and the Ballet Theatre of Maryland. (Applause.)
Now, how many of you have never been up here before? Oh. Well, then this is a special, special occasion, and I want to tell you just a little bit about these rooms, because you first walked in to the Adams Room. And in the Adams Room, there is the desk that was used to sign the treaty ending the American Revolution. And then the Jefferson Room, which is named for Thomas Jefferson. And then of course, Benjamin Franklin, who is up there celebrating with us. And there are people around these rooms who know all about the rooms and all about the wonderful furnishings and paintings that you will see. So if you have any questions, find somebody who can be sure to answer them for you.
And I want to tell you how proud I am that I get to meet your moms and dads and your husbands and wives and your family and friends. I’ve seen the work that they do firsthand, from South Central Asia to the Middle East, Africa. There are so many places that they are serving our country. And they perform their duties far from home and far from you. And I can imagine how they often feel alone, and hearing from you helps them because they tell me that. And now that we have technology that they can actually see you, that is a special treat. But then I know how important it is for you to hear from them.
I want you to know how much your country and President Obama and I appreciate your understanding and support. For those who are serving far from home every day, but particularly during the holiday season, we know that this is a big sacrifice; we know how much you miss them, and we thank you because you’re also serving our country because of what they are doing.
Now, I want you to hear from two special people. The first is Bonnie Buckhiester, a family member who will share her personal story. She will then be followed by Ambassador Capricia Marshall, who has some thoughts to share as well.
So before they come to talk, let me wish all of you a very, very happy holiday season, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year. And I hope that this year, you have all the blessings of health, and that those of you who are in school really take it seriously – (laughter) – and that your loved one comes home safely to you. And on behalf of our country, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and welcome you once again to the State Department, and welcome to the podium, Bonnie. (Applause.)