(CBS NEWS) -- Kicking off his first day as the head of the State Department today,
newly-minted Secretary of State John Kerry marked the beginning of his
tenure with a short address to his new team, briefly outlining his top
priorities for the department while thanking both the president and
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their commitment to him as
well as their advocacy for American values on the world stage.
Kerry, whose remarks were relatively brief and informal, particularly
thanked Clinton and her team for having "tirelessly advocated the
values of our country," and wondered, quippily, "can a man actually run
the State Department? I don't know."
nation is grateful, the world is grateful. Thank you Hillary Clinton,
and thank you, her team," Kerry said. "As the saying goes, I have big
heels to fill."
Relaying a few anecdotes from his personal history -
including the use of his first diplomatic passport, which he said
showcased an 11-year-old, 4'3'' John Kerry, to ride his bike into East
Berlin - the former senator said that as much as the Senate was "in his
blood," the Foreign Service "is in my genes."
have things to learn," he said. "Some of what I've learned is how
difficult life can be for people in the Foreign Service... I understand
that. I also understand how critical it is that you have somebody there
advocating for you. The dangers could not be more clear."
the deaths of the four Americans who died in Benghazi during September
11 terrorist attacks, Kerry said, "I know everybody here still mourns
that loss... I will not let their patriotism and their bravery be
obscured by politics."
"Everything I do
will be focused on the security and safety of our people," Kerry said.
"I'm here today to ask you on behalf of the country, I need your help.
President Obama needs your help. To help us to do everything we can to
strengthen our nation and to carry those ideals out in the world. Here
we can do the best of things that you can do in government. That's what