Former Secretary Elaine Chao remembers her friend and fellow immigrant, Madeleine Albright

March 24, 2022WJLA

Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday. She was 84 years old.

“When people ask me what’s the most important thing to happen in my life, I say becoming an American. I’m very proud to be an American,” Albright told 7News reporter Nick Minock in 2016 during an interview.

Albright immigrated with her family to the United States from Czechoslovakia.

Her immigration story and her stature as the first woman U.S. Secretary of State is something that former U.S. Secretary of Labor and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao says drew them together—because they have a lot in common.

Chao served as the first Asian American woman in a President’s cabinet under President George W. Bush and she, too, is an immigrant.

“We talked about what it meant to be in America and we also talked about what it felt like when we received our American citizenship. I didn’t receive my citizenship until I was 19 years old,” Chao said. “I remember us talking and I said to her it’s as if I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and she said I understood that completely because she felt the same way.”

Chao said Albright’s personality was one of a kind, and you always knew where she stood.

“She had just the right attitude. One remembers her pins. And they reflected her mood. If she was in a good mood, you saw it on her pin. And if she was having a difficult day, you will see it in the pin that she chose for that day,” she said. “She’s funny. And she took very seriously the geo-political alliances and dynamics that forged nations together or brought them apart.”
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