By Julian Pecquet - 02/01/13 08:06 PM EST
Hillary Clinton bade an emotional goodbye to the State Department on Friday as hundreds of the employees she's led for the past four years packed the agency's lobby to see her off.
Clinton grew emotional as she thanked “those with whom I've spent many hours here in Washington, around the world and in airplanes.” She said she was “very proud” of the work she and her staff have accomplished and “confident about the direction we have set.”
“I'm proud of the work we've done to elevate diplomacy and development” and to ensure “with all our heart and all of our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted and our values are respected,” she said. “I know that because of your efforts, day after day, we are making a real difference.”
“I am so grateful that we've had a chance to contribute in each of our ways to making our country and our world stronger, safer, fairer and better.”
“I know the world we are trying to help bring into being in the 21st Century will have many difficult days,” she said. “But I am more optimistic today than I was when I stood here four years ago. Because I have seen, day after day, the many contributions that our diplomats and development experts are making to help ensure that this century provides the kind of peace, progress and prosperity to not just the United States, but the entire world.”
Clinton vowed to be “an advocate from outside” for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“I will probably be dialing Ops just to talk,” she said of the department's Operations Center.
She urged her staff to give incoming Secretary of State John Kerry the same level of dedication.
"I hope you will redouble your efforts to do all that you can to demonstrate unequivocally why diplomacy and development are right up there with Defense," she said.
Kerry will be sworn in at 4 p.m. by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan at an undisclosed location.