Board Chairman Ron Walker and members Larry Higby and Amb. George Argyros presented Sec. Donald Rumsfeld with the Foundation’s Victory of Freedom Award Monday evening for his determination, dedication and devotion to the cause of freedom. The master of ceremonies was Sandy Quinn, newly elected President of the Foundation.
The 13th and 21st Defense Secretary has served over 50 years in public life, a brilliant career that began on Capitol Hill before the talented young Congressman was recognized by President Nixon to lead the Office of Economic Opportunity, and later went on to serve as the 37th President’s Counselor and Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In his remarks upon accepting the award, Sec. Rumsfeld noted RN’s acumen for team building as one of the most enduring aspects of his legacy.
“Richard Nixon assembled truly impressive minds from Henry Kissinger to Pat Moynihan to Bryce Harlow to George Shultz, Alan Greenspan, and Dick Cheney,” said Sec. Rumsfeld. “As diverse as they were what they seemed to share was a rare trait: they could distinguish between the seemingly urgent and truly important.”
Of the Nixon Administration’s most urgent and important challenges was re-establishing the morale of the U.S. Military in the midst of the Vietnam War. Upon entering the Oval Office, RN immediately started laying the groundwork for an all-volunteer military force ultimately instilling a more dedicated and disciplined culture within its ranks.
“The difference was dramatic…In 1975, I was the first secretary of defense to arrive in office with the all-volunteer military fully in place,” said Sec. Rumsfeld. “That our military is capable, dedicated, and overwhelmingly supported by our citizens today is a lasting tribute to Richard Nixon.”
Sec. Rumsfeld illustrated their dedication with a satellite image of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea, with its illuminated cities and towns is a testament to the human activity that comes with freedom. The darkness above the 38th parallel is a demonstration of the human oppression produced by a cruel dictatorship.
“The reason there is light south of the DMZ is because of America…because a generation of our young people were willing to travel across an ocean to fight for the freedom of others, ultimately to preserve our own. It is no different today,” Sec. Rumsfeld concluded.
“I accept this award on their behalf and with them in mind.”
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The Victory of Freedom Gala also included a special tribute video to Sec. Rumsfeld featuring Speaker Newt Gingrich, Hon. Alan Greenspan, Generals Peter Pace and Richard Myers, commentator Charles Krauthammer, Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, and Vice President Dick Cheney; as well as a surprise presentation by the U.S. Marine Corps band.