Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed State Department employees today, the same day the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to endorse National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as his successor. Here is a transcript of Powell's speech.
POWELL: Thank you so much, my dear friends. This is an exciting day for the Powell family. We close yet another chapter of our life and move on to something else, but it is a chapter that will always bring us the fondest memories of serving with a group of wonderful people for the last four years.
I remember the first day that I came into this lobby and was greeted with warmth and affection by all of you. That morning, before I left to come down here, Alma said to me, "Remember now, you're not in the Army anymore.
"And don't go down there and start acting as if it's an infantry battalion."
And I said, "Yes, dear."
Then I immediately came down here and saw the crowd and I started treating you like you were an infantry battalion.
Because you were my troops. You were America's troops. You are wonderful individuals, you are wonderful families, you are wonderful patriots who serve your nation as its troops in the far-flung outposts of American diplomacy. You are in the first line of offense of America's foreign policy.
And I want to thank President Bush for giving me the opportunity to serve as the 65th secretary of state, and the opportunity not only to be his former policy adviser, but to be the leader of this magnificent department.
I want to thank everybody in the department, whether you are foreign service, civil service, foreign service national, or all the components thereof; whether you are here in the department, whether you're USAID, the Peace Corps, OPIC and all the other organizations that flow into the State Department family. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I also want to thank all of the family members who are in so many of our missions around the world and here in the department for the sacrifices they make.