WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has said that I got a chance to see the whole flow of the evacuation operation and what you have accomplished in such a short period of time under such extreme circumstances is truly remarkable. And it’s been said it really is a tribute to the fact that people came together across agencies and also across countries, because we owe so much to our Germany friends and partners here. But I’m immensely grateful and proud for what you have done.
But one of the things that I think – and I know it strikes all of you, and it really strikes me, especially having a chance to even very briefly talk to some of the people that you have helped evacuate from Afghanistan – we’re constantly talking about these big numbers: 125,000 people evacuated, 6,000 American citizens, 10,000 this, 20,000 that. But I think what each of you knows firsthand is that there is an individual, a person, a story behind every single one of those numbers. And whether it’s a mother, father, or brother, sister, son, daughter, that’s what this is about.
And as I’ve said to some of your colleagues when I’ve had the chance to talk with them about what you’ve all been doing these last few weeks, I hope, if nothing else, you take this with you. Take with you the fact that because of what you’ve done and because of how you’ve done it, you have literally saved lives, you have literally changed lives, and you’ve literally changed futures. And there are so many stories that I get a chance to just briefly touch on in meeting some of these extraordinary people who are here, stories that are going to continue and write new chapters because of everything that you’ve done. And not all of us get to do exceptional things. You’ve done something truly exceptional. No matter what you’ve done in the past, no matter what you do going forward from here, this is truly, truly exceptional.
So thank you for all that you’ve done, all that you continue to do. The mission continues; it obviously continues here. It continues in our own determination to continue to stand by people in Afghanistan who need our support, need the support of the international community. We’re working on that every single day.
I have to say as well that it’s wonderful just to see this mix of folks in civilian clothes and in uniforms, everyone coming together as one team and working to get the job done.