Robert Gates speaking at VMI graduation in 2008. Photo courtesty of VMI.


By Betsy Cribb

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be at Virginia Military Institute on Friday to receive the Harry F. Byrd Jr. ’35 Public Service Award. Gates will speak to VMI cadets and the public in Cameron Hall at 10:15 a.m.

According to a VMI press release, “the Byrd Award was established in 2001 to recognize a public official who has made significant civic contributions.”

“We’re looking for someone who’s done something useful and helpful and important for society, and he fits the bill,” said VMI Communications and Marketing Director Colonel Stewart MacInnis. “He’s very much someone we would want to honor in that way.”

Gates served as Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. He was the first to hold this position under presidents of both political parties.

Gates was last on the VMI campus in May 2008, when he spoke at graduation.

“He was very well received by the Corps at the time,” MacInnis said.

A parade of the VMI Corps of Cadets will follow the ceremony.


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