U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has started work as the nation's top diplomat, promising he will make a priority the safety and security of diplomatic personnel around the globe.
Employees at the State Department greeted Kerry with applause when he arrived for work Monday. The Massachusetts Democrat was sworn in Friday.
Kerry paid tribute to personnel who have been killed in the line of duty, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans who died in a terrorist attack on the diplomatic compound and an annex building in Benghazi, Libya, in September.
"I guarantee you that, beginning this morning when I report for duty upstairs, everything I do will be focused on the security and safety of our people."
He recalled his youth in Berlin, when his father was a U.S. diplomat, and said he learned the virtues of freedom after getting a glimpse of life in Soviet-occupied East Germany.
Kerry, who was most recently the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the State Department's work of upholding American ideals while helping make peace around the world.
Kerry joked about succeeding two women -- Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. He said he has "big heels to fill."