Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
As Prepared
Washington, DC
September 23, 2011

I am delighted to send greetings to each of you here tonight as you honor my friend Bob Gates.

During the last two and a half years, I have had the privilege of working with Bob on almost every foreign policy issue we face. I have spent time with him in situation rooms, airplane hangars, and offices of all shapes – oval and otherwise – and I can say without a doubt that Bob is a true champion for freedom.

From the very beginning of the administration, Bob was committed to the State Department’s mission and to the idea that we need to elevate diplomacy and development alongside defense as the three pillars of our foreign policy. He understood the need for us to use all the tools at our disposal -- integrating our military policy with diplomatic engagement, including people-to-people diplomacy, for the future peace and security of our world.

Bob is a man of great compassion, especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform. He has said that he has a fatherly relationship with his troops, and it shows in everything he does. He successfully fought for better equipment for our soldiers; when there was a decision to be made to send our men and women into harm’s way, he took it greatly to heart. That’s why he’s been called the “Soldiers’ Secretary.” No one has greater concern for the wellbeing of our troops and their families, and all Americans touched by war.

Bob, we have been called the cabinet’s power couple, and we have been called the cabinet’s odd couple. After two and half years of working toward our goals of a more peaceful and prosperous world--and sharing laughs, lunches and plane rides—I am delighted to call you my friend. Congratulations on this award. You deserve it.