Washington: Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was on Thursday honoured with Pentagon`s highest civilian award for her exceptional service to the nation.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta presented Hillary with the Department of Defence Medal for Distinguished Public Service at a ceremony at Pentagon for playing an indispensable role in formulating and, with great success, implementing national security, foreign and development policies in an era of dynamic shifts in global affairs.
Applying an innovative, smart power approach, Hillary led efforts to invigorate traditional alliances, engage emerging powers, and develop new partnerships to advance American interests, security, and values, said the citation.
Panetta said that it was Hillary`s inspiration that led him to remove the final barriers for women in the US defence services.
"In many ways, I have to tell you, it was her inspiration that encouraged me to move forward to be able to bring down the last barriers for women in the Department of Defence and to give them the ability to have a chance to engage in combat," he said.
"Today it is now clear that we need to maintain a strong military force to deal with the unstable and unpredictable and undeniably dangerous world that we live in.”
"But it is equally clear that we must enhance our other key levers of power, our economic and diplomatic power, if we are to truly achieve peace in the 21st century," Panetta said.
"Delivering on that vision will require wisdom, and it will require a will to act, qualities that Hillary Clinton exemplified throughout her career and as Secretary of State.”
"Her legacy is the inspiration, the wisdom, and the will to fight for the American dream, and that, very simply, is why we honour her today," he said.
In her remarks, Hillary said that the Department of Defence and the State Department is now working more close than ever to address US national security challenges.
"I think we have gone a long way to restore America`s global leadership and to make progress on some of the great challenges we face, from taking the fight to the leadership of al Qaeda to reasserting the United States as a Pacific power," she said.
Hillary, who travelled more than 100 countries during her four year tenure as Secretary of State, said that the American leadership remains respected and required.
"There is no real precedent in history for the role we play or the responsibility we have shouldered. There is also no alternative," she said.
"But I often remind myself that our global leadership is not our birthright. It has to be earned by each successive generation, staying true to our values and living up to the best traditions of our nation.”
"Secretaries and presidents come and go, but this responsibility remains constant. It truly must be our North Star," Hillary said.