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Clinton Pays Tribute To Harriman's 'Singular' Life


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 12) -- President Bill Clinton paid tribute to the late U.S. ambassador to France Pamela Harriman, calling her a "cherished friend" and praising her life of "singular achievement."

A doyenne of Democratic politics since the early 1980s, Harriman was named ambassador to France four years ago by Clinton. At 76, she collapsed Feb. 3 while swimming at a health club at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Doctors blamed a stroke for her death.

"She left us at the pinnacle of her public service," the president told those attending a memorial service today at Washington's National Cathedral. He noted that Harriman, embraced by French society, had been awarded Commander of the Legion of Honor's Order of Arts and Letters, the country's highest cultural award.


Clinton, who had been a frequent recipient of Harriman's patronage, cited her "truly indomitable" spirit that spawned a diverse life -- from war-torn Europe to New York's Broadway community, and to the diplomatic circles of France.

Noting she was European-born but "American by choice," Clinton recalled that Harriman, in the early 1980s, founded Democrats For The '80s, which at that time, he said, "seemed like a laughable oxymoron."

"She lifted our spirits and our vision," he said. Clinton took note of her support of him throughout his career, saying, "Today I am here in no small measure because she was there," he said.

But he suggested, "Her whole life was a preparation for these last four years of singular achievement."

The first of Harriman's three husbands was Randolph Churchill, son of England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Her spirit, Clinton told his audience, might best be understood through the words of the late prime minister:

"Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies such as they must be in this world of time and space. Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows. The glory of life cannot exist without the shadows. Life is a whole and the journey has been well worth making."

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