Gates Accepts Patriot Award on Behalf of Troops

WASHINGTON — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates was award­ed the 2010 Amer­i­can Patri­ot Award last night for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the intel­li­gence, nation­al secu­ri­ty, and defense com­mu­ni­ties.
In accept­ing the pres­ti­gious award, Gates said he was doing so on behalf of all the young men and women in uni­form who serve their coun­try in time of war.

Gates received the Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty Foundation’s award at a cer­e­mo­ny here for his con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing four decades of gov­ern­ment ser­vice.

“Tonight we sit and enjoy this won­der­ful occa­sion and each other’s com­pa­ny, but we must nev­er for­get that our com­fort and safe­ty are borne on the brave and broad shoul­ders of those young men and women in uni­form,” he said.

In hon­or­ing ser­vice­mem­bers, Gates quot­ed Gen. George C. Mar­shall, the Army chief of staff dur­ing World War II and Nobel Peace Prize win­ner for whom The Mar­shall Plan to rebuild Europe after the war is named.

“More sac­ri­fices will be required of them to defend the secu­ri­ty and free­dom of our coun­try in this dan­ger­ous new cen­tu­ry,” he said. “And it is our duty — it is, indeed, our sacred oblig­a­tion — in Marshall’s words, to make things well for them.”

Their well-being, Gates added, is his con­tin­u­ing high­est pri­or­i­ty.

Among more than 600 guests were senior defense and mil­i­tary offi­cials, includ­ing Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III, senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials, mem­bers of Con­gress and cor­po­rate and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers.

In his com­ments, Gates rec­og­nized retired Repub­lic of Korea Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup, who trav­eled from South Korea to attend the gala.

“For those of you who don’t know,” Gates said, “Gen­er­al Paik was the ROK army’s youngest and fiercest divi­sion com­man­der dur­ing the Kore­an War and for near­ly six decades has been one of America’s most stead­fast friends.

“Sir,” Gates told him, “I’m pleased that you came so far to be here, and thank you.”

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Vice Adm. Ann Ron­deau and oth­ers spoke on Gates’ behalf.

“The Amer­i­can Patri­ot Award is pre­sent­ed each year to a cit­i­zen whose sac­ri­fice and ded­i­ca­tion stand out as remark­able,” Ron­deau, pres­i­dent of Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty, said.

“To some­one who answers the call to pub­lic ser­vice, patri­o­tism is not a con­cept. It is a com­mit­ment, it is a duty upon which we act,” she added. “This lev­el of com­mit­ment is what Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty Foun­da­tion prizes above all else. It is what we rec­og­nize and acknowl­edge every year and again this year.”

Cartwright thanked the uni­ver­si­ty staff, pro­fes­sors, exec­u­tives and the Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty Foun­da­tion for “mak­ing a dif­fer­ence” to all the field-grade offi­cers and gen­er­al offi­cers who attend the insti­tu­tion, edu­cat­ing them­selves and enrich­ing their spir­its.

One of sev­er­al stand­ing ova­tions of the evening acknowl­edged the gala’s spe­cial guests — more than 40 mem­bers from each mil­i­tary ser­vice who were part of the 2010 Spon­sor a Patri­ot pro­gram. Their com­man­ders chose them based on char­ac­ter and ded­i­ca­tion to coun­try, and some came from around the world.

In a video mes­sage played dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion, for­mer Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush high­light­ed Gates’ “mon­u­men­tal” con­tri­bu­tions to his coun­try.

“For eight pres­i­dents, hav­ing gone from raw recruit to CIA direc­tor and now sec­re­tary of defense, Robert Gates has been wise­ly and relent­less­ly fight­ing and win­ning America’s wars,” Bush said.

The Amer­i­can Patri­ot Award rec­og­nizes excep­tion­al Amer­i­cans who demon­strate a love of coun­try and whose lead­er­ship and ded­i­ca­tion sym­bol­ize U.S. ideals, val­ues and demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples.

Past award recip­i­ents include for­mer Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush; for­mer Sec­re­taries of State retired Army Gen. Col­in Pow­ell and Hen­ry Kissinger; Army Gen. David Petraeus and the men and women of Cen­tral Com­mand; astro­naut and retired U.S. Sen­a­tor John Glenn; and for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary Cas­par Wein­berg­er.

Beyond hon­or­ing the recip­i­ents, the gala sup­ports the uni­ver­si­ty and its mis­sion of prepar­ing mil­i­tary and civil­ian lead­ers from the Unit­ed States and oth­er coun­tries to exam­ine nation­al and inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges through edu­ca­tion­al and research pro­grams, pro­fes­sion­al exchanges and out­reach.

The main cam­pus is at Fort Les­ley McNair in Wash­ing­ton.

The Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty Foun­da­tion is a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that has pro­vid­ed pri­vate-sec­tor sup­port for the Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty for more than 28 years.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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