Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld died Wednesday in Taos, New Mexico. He would have turned 89 next week.
A Chicago native and Eagle Scout who served 35 years in the U.S. Navy, and as a young Illinois congressman in the 1960s, he was more known as defense secretary during the Gerald Ford and George W. Bush presidential administrations — both as the youngest and the oldest person to hold the post.
Rumsfeld presided over Cold War strategies in the 1970s, then oversaw the Pentagon’s response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 nearly three decades later.
Rumsfeld was in his Pentagon office when the building the was hit with the third hijacked plane by Islamic jihadists that sunny morning.
"I went outside and there were little pieces of metal spread all over the grass, and the smoke was billowing up, and the flame was very visible and leaping out of the building," he once described.
After the attacks, Rumsfeld was part of a senior-level effort to wage war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Iraq. AEI's Marc Thiessen, who served as Rumsfeld's speechwriter, claimed the defense secretary transformed military, including revitalizing our ballistic missile defense, which benefits all presidents and the country henceforth.
The 1954 Princeton graduate married his wife of 66 years soon after his studied concluded. They have three children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In his final decade-and-a-half, he headed the Rumsfeld Foundation to promote public service and work with charities that provide support for military families and wounded veterans.
He was one of 50 Bush administration alumni to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.
Rumsfeld also made media appearances and wrote his memoir, "Known and Unknown” in 2011.
The title is based on his famous quote, “As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.”
Former president George W. Bush paid his respects with a heartfelt statement, mourning the "loss of an exemplary public servant."
A.J. Kaufman is a senior columnist for Alpha News and special feature contributor to KACMEDIA.