Amherst, NY (WKBW) A well known member of the cabinet under both President Bush and President Obama was in Western New York Wednesday night.
Former Secretary of Defense, former Director of the CIA, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and one of Time Magazine's Most Influential People are just a few of the titles that Dr. Robert Gates holds. But Wednesday night, he was a speaker, a lecturer, and a teacher.
Those who saw Gates speak said they came to see him for a variety of reasons.
"It's really quite a monumental event, seeing somebody who for the first time ever, was a holdover from a previous administration," one student said.
"He set the policy and the pace for the last two wars that I've had a chance to participate in," Lt. Col. Daniel Brown of the US Air Force Reserves said.
"World politics, American politics, anything he touches on he has insight that people you meet every day don't really have," Ben Eberle added.
Students, community members, and veterans all came out to see Robert Gates, as part of UB's "Distinguished Speaker Series."
"My major is Political Science, and my teacher who is an alumni here encouraged us to go," Kaitlyn Hess said.
"Listening to him and knowing what he did over his policy would be useful to me as a student at UB," Kobla Quarshie said.
Those in attendance also had the opportunity to ask Gates questions, knowing they could learn from such an important figure in US policy.
"It's important to be informed as American citizens and he just has a wealth of knowledge that anyone can gain from," Eberle said.
"Just to have him be here to talk about why he did what he did it brings it down to our level and makes it more understandable to the common person," Lt. Col. Brown added.
Gates spoke about the United States in a post 9/11 world, as well as the two wars that defined his term as Secretary of Defense. But the tone was not all serious, as Gates also joked about Washington DC and the egos of some of his former bosses.
Since Gates spoke as part of the UB's speaker series, unfortunately we were not allowed to record his remarks other than his brief introduction.