WASHINGTON — Capping four years as the Bush administration's top diplomat, a teary-eyed Condoleezza Rice bade a spirited farewell Friday to an assembly of several hundred State Department employees.
Rice was greeted by thunderous applause as she appeared in the building's C Street lobby to thank the staff in optimistic oratory that echoed President George W. Bush's 2005 Inauguration speech in which he said he would fight for freedom in every nation with the "ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
Rice said her own story _ the first black woman to serve as secretary of state _ showed how far the United States has come in making its ethnic, religious and racial diversity a catalyst for social progress.
"And that's why I know that one day there is going to be a world in which every man, woman and child will be free from tyranny," she said.
After her remarks Rice plunged into the crowd to pose for pictures and shake hands, tears welling in her eyes.
On Tuesday, after President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate and arrive at the State Department as the third woman in U.S. history to be secretary of state.