In 2006, I spoke at the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, an event delayed for a year because of Hurricane Katrina. This gave me a chance to look around the city, large parts of which remained in ruins. I was saddened by the contrast between the museum—which celebrated America at its best—and the shabby treatment accorded to local residents.

At the reception following my speech, I was approached by a young man bearing a pin. "My mother loved you," he said, "and she knew that you liked pins. My father is a veteran with two purple hearts and gave her this one for their 50th wedding anniversary. She died as a result of Katrina, and would have wanted you to have it. It would be an honor to her if you would accept." 

I call it the Katrina pin, a flower composed of amethysts and diamonds. I wear it as a reminder that jewelry's greatest value comes not from precious stones or brilliant designs, but from the emotions we invest. The most cherished gems are not those that dazzle the eye, but those that recall to our minds the face and spirit of a loved one.

As the pages of Read My Pins illustrate, pins are inherently expressive. I was fortunate to be secretary of state at a time that allowed me to experiment by using pins to communicate a diplomatic message. One might scoff and say that my pins didn't exactly shake the world. To that I can reply only that shaking the world is the opposite of what diplomats are placed on Earth to do. 

See some of the pins in her collection

Albright talks about the secret meaning of her pins Watch


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