Remarks to Commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Marshall Scholars Program

Antony J. Blinken
Deputy Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 19, 2015

DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the State Department. It is a great honor to welcome His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Scholarship and celebrate its invaluable role in strengthening the cherished bonds between our two nations. I’d also like to recognize, if I could, Bob Gray, the president of the Association of Marshall Scholars – welcome – as well as my good friend and Marshall Scholar, former Deputy Secretary Bill Burns, whose shoes I try to fill and whose wisdom I try to channel every day. And I’d also like to acknowledge Peter Westmacott, the United Kingdom’s extraordinary envoy to the United States and also a very good friend.

More than six decades ago, the British parliament, inspired by the ideals and the vision of the Marshall Plan, created this scholarship program as an enduring expression of gratitude and faith in our special relationship. In the decades since, nearly 1,900 young American students have crossed the Atlantics, strengthening and deepening the bonds between our nations, each generation successively doing that.

Equipped with an education of the finest caliber, these scholars have returned home to become artists and astronauts, diplomats and CEOs, cabinet members and Supreme Court justices – leaders of the country, leaders of their communities. With alumni in all walks of life, the Marshall program has not only expanded the horizons of its scholars; it has shaped our nation and it is strengthening the future of our partnership. Nowhere is that more evident than right here at the Department of State, where the Marshall Plan was first hatched and where dozens of Marshall Scholars work today, carrying forward the founding mission of this prestigious program.

“A close accord between our two countries is essential to the good of mankind in this turbulent world,” wrote General George Marshall in a letter to the very first class of Marshall Scholars in 1954. There were 12 of them. It was a truth that General Marshall knew intimately, having served as secretary of defense and secretary of state and having won a great war thanks to the resilience of the transatlantic partnership, and our partnership in particular with the United Kingdom.

Sixty years later, those words speak across the decades, prescient when they were spoken. We’re proud and grateful for the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom that enables us to face today’s turbulence together, with strength, equanimity, and uncompromising commitment to the values that unite us.

In this mission, no one has been a better leader, a stronger advocate, or a more determined voice than the Prince of Wales. As many of you know, His Royal Highness has a long history of supporting innovative solutions to some of the most pressing societal challenges we face. Just yesterday, he spoke here in Washington on the issue of maritime plastics pollution with the same energy and focus that he’s brought to issues like food security, the international wildlife trade, and ecosystem resilience – efforts that complement the work of the State Department.

And today, as both of our nations confront the challenge of violent extremism, we have the opportunity to speak about his important efforts to promote interfaith dialogue around the world. The Prince of Wales is not only elevating these issues within the United Kingdom. Nearly 20 years ago, he created the Prince of Wales Foundation in the United States to help strengthen the arts, promote sustainable development, and protect the environment around the world. His commitment to the Marshall Scholarship is one superb example of the meaningful impact of this global engagement.

So on behalf of the United States Government and the people of the United States, I’d like to extend my warm appreciation to His Royal Highness and the British people for their continued support of this outstanding program.

To the newly minted class of 2015 scholars, I wish you very well on your journey. I think I speak for everyone here when I say we’d all love to be back in your shoes. (Laughter.)

And finally, to the scores of Marshall Scholars here today, thank you for all that you do every day to sustain and enrich the most special relationship that we have. Thank you all very much for being here.

Your Highness, thank you for being here. (Applause.)