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Gates receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama on Thursday surprised Secretary Gates by presenting him the highest U.S. civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, at Gates' farewell ceremony outside the Pentagon. "Bob, this is not in the program, but please stand," Obama said, and then ordered the reading of Gates' citation.

Here's the full text, per the White House pool report:

“Our Nation’s 22nd Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates has selflessly dedicated his life to ensuring the security of the American people. He has served eight Presidents, of both parties, with unwavering patriotism. As a champion of our men and women in uniform and their families, he has led the Department of Defense with courage and competence during our Nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ensured our Armed Forces are better prepared for the conflicts of today and tomorrow. The United States honors Robert M. Gates for his extraordinary leadership and for a lifetime of service and devotion to our Nation.”

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