Together with retired Air Force General Charles F. Boyd, RN’s daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower presented Defense Secretary Robert Gates with the Nixon Center’s annual Distinguished Service Award in Washington on Wednesday, February 24.
The program also included remarks from Secretary Gates, RN’s second Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, Nixon Foundation board member Ambassador George Argyros, Center President Dimitri Simes, and ABC Congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Among those in attendance were Nixon Foundation Chairman Kris Elftmann, RN’s brother Ed Nixon, son-in-laws David Eisenhower and Edward F. Cox, and grandson Christopher Nixon Cox.

Throughout his 40 years in public service, Secretary Gates has held leading positions under eight different Presidents, Democrat and Republican. Beginning his career as an entry level CIA officer, he worked his way up the ranks to Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Deputy National Security Adviser, and then Director of Central Intelligence. In 2006, he left his post as President of Texas A&M University to lead the Pentagon during the height of the Iraq War under President George W. Bush. President Obama asked him to stay on to lead American forces in Afghanistan.

“Selecting Gates was a wonderful choice,” said Julie Nixon Eisenhower. “’Robert Gates is eternal in Washington, that means you have built a reputation as being bi-partisan.”

During his remarks, Gates – who served as a National Security Council staffer in the Nixon White House – harkened back to the wisdom of America’s 37th President and offered special recognition to the work of the Nixon Center. “Everything we do must be suffused with strong doses of modesty and realism, as President Nixon would say,” Gates said. “The Center’s overriding goal — the enlightened pursuit of the national interest that takes into account the legitimate perspectives of other nations — is one that all people of good sense should embrace.

Photo: Defense Secretary Robert Gates (center) accepts the Nixon Center’s Distinguished Service Award from RN’s daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower (right) and retired Air Force General Charles F. Boyd (left).