For his support of a strong national defense, Weinberger, one of the longest-serving Pentagon chiefs, received The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1985.
"Weinberger has demonstrated many times over the importance of national defense for America by emphasizing the concept of peace through preparedness," National Commander Clarence M. Bacon said. "He has displayed untiring efforts and patriotic devotion in perpetuating American principles."
Accepting the honor, Weinberger said, "I strongly endorse the Legion's resolution on strategic defense, and I want to assure you right now that we will never give up our right or search for a better and safer world with effective strategic defenses against Soviet nuclear weapons."
A Harvard graduate, Weinberger served in the cabinets of three presidents. He was Reagan's defense secretary, Nixon's director of the Office of Management and Budget, and secretary of Health, Education and Welfare for Nixon and Ford.
As a World War II Army captain, Weinberger served on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's intelligence staff at the end of the war. Upon returning home to California, he became active in Republican politics. He served in the California State Assembly for six years and held other state posts.
Often called "Cap the Knife" for his spending cuts in other positions, Weinberger defended the Pentagon's budget while reining in contracts for exorbitantly priced items.
When criticized about defense spending during the Cold War, Weinberger responded, ‘Yes, we used a worst-case analysis. You should always use a worst-case analysis in this business. You can't afford to be wrong. In the end, we won the Cold War, and if we won by too much, if it was overkill, so be it."
Five years after leaving Reagan's cabinet, Weinberger was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal. Before heading to trial in 1993, he was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.
After leaving the Pentagon, Weinberger acted as publisher, then chairman, of Forbes magazine. He died in Maine in 2006, at 88.
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