Robert Gates named 2011 Liberty Medal recipient

By the Associated Press | June 23, 2011 | 11:15 AM EDT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring next week after 50 years of public service, is the recipient of the 2011 Liberty Medal.

Gates will receive the medal in a ceremony on Sept. 22, 2011, in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Liberty Medal sponsors made the announcement Thursday. They say Gates has built a legacy of defending freedom, promoting diplomacy and supporting U.S. troops worldwide.

Gates has served eight presidents. He also is the only U.S. Defense Secretary who has served presidents of different parties.

The Liberty Medal was first given in 1989. Previous winners include rock singer and human rights activist Bono, former South African President Nelson Mandela and former President Jimmy Carter.