President-elect Joe Biden announced his first round of nominees for his Cabinet on Tuesday. His selection for Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted his stepfather’s struggle during the Holocaust, as well as Jewish persecution, in his acceptance speech.

“My late stepfather, Samuel, he was one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps,” Blinken said. “At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march…from his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound… painted on its side was a five-pointed white star. An African American GI looked down at him. He got down on his knees and said the only three words that he knew in English… ‘God bless America.'”

“That’s who we are,” he continued. “That’s what America represents to the world… Now we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence… we can’t solve all the world’s problems alone. We need to be working with other countries.”

Blinken, who was a foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama, was selected by Biden for his skills in diplomacy and deep policy knowledge. Biden has made it clear that one of his priorities is shifting away from President Donald Trump’s policies with the idea of “America first,” and wants to rebuild the nation’s relationships with its allies.

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“While this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking and unchanged habits,” said Biden of Blinken and other nominees. He emphasized that with his administration, the United States will be “ready to lead.”

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