Donald Rumsfeld, the youngest and oldest person to hold the position of U.S. Secretary of Defense, not only attracted patrons to Richard Nixonâ€™s birthplace Monday evening but protesters as well.
Rumsfeld was at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda to receive the honorary Victory of Freedom Award from the Richard Nixon Foundation. Rumsfeld toured the grounds of the library and later a celebratory dinner was held in his honor. Tickets to attend the dinner were being sold $500 each at the Nixon Foundation website.
Premium seating tickets, to sit at the head table next Secretary Rumsfeld cost $25,000.
Rumsfeld was asked about topics not pertaining to the evenings events, he declined to answer those questions.
â€œIâ€™m not going to get into current affairs,â€ Rumsfeld said. â€œItâ€™s a privilege to be here and Iâ€™m grateful for this fine award.â€
Regardless of whether Rumsfeld wanted to address current affairs, a group of about 20 protesters were picketing on the sidewalk outside of the Nixon Library.
Dede Miller, 52, from Bellflower, lost her nephew Casey Sheehan in the Iraq war. Millerâ€™s sister Cindy Sheehan is known for her activism after her sonâ€™s death and for protesting outside of George W. Bushâ€™s Crawford estate during the summer of 2005, where she set up Camp Casey in honor of her son.
Casey served as a Humvee mechanic in the Army and was killed April 4, 2004 in an uprising in Sadr city called Bloody Sunday.
â€œMy nephew Casey Sheehan was killed in the Iraq war and itâ€™s really important for me that these people, Donald Rumsfeld, be held accountable,â€ Miller said. â€œIf I could get in and yell at him, I would love to. Itâ€™s crazy how war profiteers profit.â€
As cars drove by some honked in support while others shouted out of their windows, â€œyou liberal idiotsâ€ to the protesters.
â€œWe invaded for oil and empire. Itâ€™s imperative that citizens come out and have a conscience,â€ said Sharon Tipton, 51, an Irvine resident. â€œSome people drive by and say â€˜get a lifeâ€™ and I say â€˜get a conscience.â€™â€
John Runningder Gourley, 56, served in the U.S. Air Force and was a part of the group protesting Rumsfeld and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was scheduled to attend the dinner but cancelled.
â€œThe more that I saw the reality of why we were in Iraq and Afghanistan, I realized that it was corporate lies, that our military was being used as cannon fodder for oil profits,â€ Gourley said. â€œItâ€™s appalling how these politicians, Rumsfeld and Cheney, have lied to the American public. We do not have a right to have sovereignty over the Muslim people or any other people.â€
When asked how his trip and time at the Nixon Library had been, Rumsfeld did not mention the protesters.
â€œItâ€™s impressive, you see the wonderful work they have done here and I have just been working on a memoir that comes out in February and needless to say, I write a good deal about the Nixon administration and President Nixon,â€ Rumsfeld said. â€œIt brings back a lot of memories to be here. (Nixon) asked me to resign from the Congress in 1969 and join his cabinet and that began my service in the executive branch of the government.â€
Rumsfeld served as the 13th Secretary of Defense under Gerald Fordâ€™s administration and as the 21st Secretary of Defense under Bushâ€™s administration.
According to the foundation, Rumsfeld received the award for promoting the rights of freedom throughout his 50 years of public service, which began under the Nixon administration after he left his congressional seat.