The recipient of the Liberty Award this year will be U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
The award given annually by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia honors people who uphold the principles of liberty. This year’s selection reflects the Constitutional promise of “providing for the common defense.”
Robert M. Gates is the only U.S. Secretary of Defense to serve two presidents of opposing parties – Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama.
Gates has overseen military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s announced he will retire next week.
Constitution Center president David Eisner acknowledged Gates may be a controversial pick to some.
“The fact is you can’t be a leader on the world stage in a way that accomplishes an agenda – especially spreading freedom – without ruffling feathers,” Eisner said. “And yet our selection of Gates is because, in part, how elegently he rises above partisan bickering and name-calling to have a name that’s synonymous with integrity and directness.”
Past recipients include filmmaker Stephen Speilberg, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and rock star Bono.
The award ceremony takes place September 22nd.