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Thursday
Feb072013

Secretary Kerry's Swearing In: Now Is 'Not a Time for America to Retreat'

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Family and friends from each stage of Secretary of State John Kerry’s life in public service witnessed the Vietnam veteran and former Senator be sworn in publicly Wednesday at the State Department. Members of Congress from both parties including Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Bob Corker, R- Tenn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as former Republican Senator from Indiana, Dick Lugar, were in the audience.

Kerry also welcomed former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and FBI director “Bobby” Mueller and said he was honored to be joined by fellow vets who served with him in Vietnam.

After being sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden, who called Kerry a “real friend,” the new Secretary began his 30 minute remarks with a joke about his former life as a U.S. Senator for nearly 30 years, which made the audience burst out in laughter.  

"As a recovering politician," he quipped, "I've grown used to being sworn at; it's really nice to be sworn in."

Kerry spent the majority of his speech thanking his friends and his family for their support. He also thanked President Obama for tapping him for the position. Kerry paid special tribute to his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, which received a long round of applause from the audience.

"I want to thank Secretary Clinton for the unbelievably high standard of energy, commitment, vision that she set in her terrific stewardship of the State Department…We thank her for a job superbly done," Kerry said Wednesday.
 
Secretary Kerry, who sat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee for nearly 30 years, spoke about the budgetary challenges the State Department faces in America’s current economy, but said that budgetary constraints must not hamper America’s leadership in the world.

"This is not a time for America to retreat," he said. "This is a time for us to continue to lead."
 
He closed his speech with a rallying cry for the State Department to continue pressing peace and representing the best of American values globally.

"We are still marching forward.  We still believe in peace. Even as the ground beneath us shifts, we know how to find our way. And we will do so with firm footing. And in the end, our imprint on the world is one that we alone can still seal for ourselves. Let's get to work," Kerry said, concluding his speech.
 
Though the State Department and the role of Secretary of State is, by law, a non-partisan agency, there were a few political comments during the ceremony. Vice President Joe Biden blatantly referenced Kerry’s loss in the 2004 Presidential election to George W. Bush.

"I have one great regret as I look out and see some of you I'm sure share that regret: that I didn't get -- get the opportunity standing next to John when he was being sworn in as president of the United States of America. How different the world -- in my opinion -- how different the world might be today had that occurred," said Biden, who then joked that he might have ended up the Secretary of State, had the election outcome been different.

“Who in the hell knows? Maybe 10, 12 years ago, I would have been standing where John is. I might have been able to get a real job," the vice president said to laughter.
 
Kerry also made a political comment, although much more subtle, as he thanked President Obama for his “leadership in the world,” to cheers and applause.

"I will tell you, my friends -- and I think the vice president hears this too -- President Obama has restored America's place and our reputation in the world, and we are grateful."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio