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Condoleezza Rice receives 2009 TD White Award
Dr. Condoleeza Rice, right, and Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould affix Dr. Rice's name into a plaque listing Thomas D. White award recipients in Arnold Hall at the Air Force Academy Thursday. Dr. Rice was named the 2009 T.D. White Award recipient for her contributions to the defense and scurity of the United States during a distinguished career as a professor, presidential adviser, diplomat, author and national security expert. She is a professor of political science at Stanford University. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)
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Dr. Condoleezza Rice receives 2009 TD White Award

Posted 8/27/2010   Updated 8/30/2010 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

8/27/2010 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received the 2009 Thomas D. White National Defense Award during a visit here Aug. 26.

Dr. Rice, currently a professor at Stanford University, received the award for contributions to the defense and security of the United States during a distinguished career as a professor, presidential adviser, diplomat, author and national security expert, according to the award citation.

The award is presented annually to a U.S. citizen who has contributed significantly to national defense and security in any field of endeavor.

"Dr. Condoleezza Rice certainly fits that mold," Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould said during the tapping ceremony in Arnold Hall. "This is our biggest award, and Dr. Rice, we're glad you could make it out here."

Dr. Rice said she was humbled to enter the company of previous award recipients, who include Sen. John Glenn, Gens. Carl Spaatz, Curtis LeMay and Bernard Schriever and Army Gen. Colin Powell.

Cadets treated Dr. Rice like a rock star. The Cadet Wing held its noon parade, which included a C-130 Hercules flyover, in her honor, and cadets cheered loudly upon her introduction in Mitchell Hall for lunch.

"I cannot tell you how great it is to be here again, and that's for a couple of reasons," said Dr. Rice, who visited the Academy on occasion to attend concerts and football games while she was growing up in Denver. One of the reasons she listed was because of what the Air Force did for her while she was secretary of state.

"I traveled 1 million miles ... to some 65 countries, and the Air Force was there with me every step of the way, whether it was to Libya or to Baghdad and to Europe," she said. "The service into which you are entering has been very, very good to me, and I'd like to acknowledge that on behalf of all secretaries of state."

Dr. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state, confirmed by the Senate in 2005 as President George W. Bush began his second term in office. She served as the president's principal adviser in determining U.S. foreign policy and coordinated interdepartmental activities overseas, according to the award citation. Among her accomplishments were a negotiated agreement with North Korea in 2007 to dismantle its nuclear reactors and a summit in Annapolis, Md., to try to broker a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

"As secretary of state, you get to travel the world, and you get to see what people admire about us (as well as) what they don't like so much," she said. "The one thing people overwhelmingly are attracted to about the United States of America is that this is a country that really believes it doesn't matter where you came from -- it matters where you're going. This is a country that believes you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. This is a country that believes every man, woman and child ought to be able to live in freedom -- freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to choose those who govern you, freedom to associate with whom you please, and freedom ... from the knock of the secret police at night."

Americans also believe that people around the world deserve to live under the same freedom, Dr. Rice said. And Americans understand that they have those freedoms because of the men and women who defend that freedom at the front lines.

"Today, men and women in uniform defend us ... in Kandahar and Kabul, in Baghdad and Basra, and across the world. But they follow in a long line of men and women who have defended us ... so that freedom could triumph: in the Cold War, all the way back to the Civil War and indeed in the Revolutionary War," she said. "You are working and studying and preparing to take leadership in that long line of people who've sacrificed so that we can live our values."

Dr. Rice returned to Stanford in 2009, where she teaches in business and political sciences. She's also writing two books: one on her family that is due out in October, and a secretary of state's memoir that will be published in 2011. In addition, she's active with K-12 education issues with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and she consults with the private sector on global affairs.

"And I'm trying to improve my golf game," she added, smiling.

She first started teaching at Stanford in 1981. Students are as intellectually engaged now as they were 30 years ago, but today's students are more focused on serving their country, she said.

"There's more of a commitment to public service. I've seen that develop over the years," she said. "I have an awful lot of students who want to go into Teach4America or to work with non-profits abroad. I think there's a stronger belief in service; that's really very important."

Dr. Rice received an invitation from the Academy to teach a course for a week as a visiting professor. It's something she said she would love to do.

"I'm always going to be a Stanford faculty member, but it would be great to come out for a short period of time," she said.

Given a choice, she said she would teach a class on decision making.

"I love teaching decision-making classes because I think it's very hard, unless you are in those roles, to know how decisions get made," she said. "Very often, people think, 'That was a terrible decision,' but they aren't making decisions under time pressure; they aren't making decisions with incomplete information.

"You don't have a choice not to make a decision, and I like to teach courses that help people understand that. Sometimes you have to keep moving forward; you can't keep moving back," she said. "They (cadets) will have to make those decisions -- and as military officers, they will also have to support decisions that civilian leaders take. Understanding how those work and the role that the military plays in advising -- those are very important elements of training."

Dr. Rice thanked cadets for serving their country.

"Thank you for believing in this great country," she said. "Thank you for being a fine exemplar of the continuing line of young men and women who are willing to make those sacrifices on behalf of all of us. Thank you for coming here today to greet me and for that fantastic parade, which was one of the great experiences of my life."

8/30/2010 10:31:46 AM ET
Jack thanks for the catch. I've updated the story. -- Don
Staff Sgt. Don Branum, U.S. Air Force Academy
8/27/2010 11:28:35 PM ET
Dr. Rice was not the first African-American Secretary of State as the article says. Colin Powell served as President George W. Bush's Secretary of State 2001-2005. Dr. Rice is in fact the first female African-American Secretary of State.
Jack White, Colorado Springs CO
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