Colin Powell, outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will become the second recipient of the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award at a ceremony Nov. 9 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
The announcement that Powell would follow former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in receiving the honor was made Tuesday by the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
The award, which is presented in the form of a medal and is commemorated on a wall of the Reagan library, is awarded each year to a person judged by the trustees to have made significant contributions to the freedom of mankind, said Ralph C. Bledsoe, library director.
“During my administration,” Reagan said in a prepared release, “Colin Powell played a key role in the success of our foreign policy and made a special contribution toward the improvement of relations with the former Soviet Union.
“As chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he successfully led the U.S. military in times of conflict and peace with unparalleled dignity and honor. I am very thankful for all he has done for America and I have no doubt that he will continue to have a tremendous impact on world affairs.”
The award ceremony, where Powell and Reagan are scheduled to speak, will be held inside the library’s auditorium and doubles as a fund-raiser for the Reagan Foundation and the Center for Public Affairs, said Reagan spokeswoman Cathy Busch.
About 400 tickets are available for the presentation and luncheon at the library beginning at 11 a.m., Busch said. Tickets sell for $2,500 each and are available by calling the Reagan foundation at 522-2977.
Last year, visitors were charged $5,000 to watch Gorbachev receive the first freedom award in an outdoor ceremony in the library’s courtyard. Guests dined on chilled pear and red pepper soup, poached salmon with dill sauce and a 1989 California Chardonnay.
After the gourmet lunch, Reagan and Gorbachev posed with each guest in front of the library’s three-ton chunk of the Berlin Wall.
Bledsoe said the freedom award allows Reagan to honor noteworthy world leaders while also focusing attention on his Center for Public Affairs, a conservative think tank operated by the nonprofit foundation and based at the library.
“Presidents, when they leave office, like to acknowledge people who they were close to and who they have respect for and worked with,” Bledsoe said. “I think Colin Powell is the epitome of the current military leaders. He has been one of those who have carried forward, I think, in the military the basic appreciation for the role of the military in our society and at the same time has adapted the role of the military to modern times.”
Powell was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs by former President George Bush in 1989 after serving as deputy national security adviser during the Reagan Administration. He is retiring as Joint Chiefs chairman on Sept. 30.
Officials said the library will be closed to the public on the day of the award ceremony, which was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.