ANDERSON, Ind. —
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday in Washington, the crowning achievement to a life dedicated to public service.
It is an award Lugar's former staff members said is well deserved for a man who has done so much for his state and country.
"It couldn't have gone to a better man," said Pat Kiely, president of the Indiana Manufacturer's Association.
Kiely's relationship with Lugar goes back to 1974 when he served on Lugar's first campaign for the U.S. Senate. Kiely also served as a state representative for Madison County for many years and worked closely with Lugar's office.
"Sen. Lugar is someone who served in an honorable fashion," Kiely said. "The more you get to know him, the more you respect him."
Lugar's legacy goes beyond just his work on a national level, Lou Gerig said. Gerig was a press secretary for Lugar from 1977-80. He left in 1980 to work for the Reagan administration.
He told a story of how Lugar personally called him a year ago when Gerig's mother passed away. Even after all those years, Lugar still cared enough to call him and share his condolences.
"Once you work for Sen. Lugar, you never stop working for him," Gerig said. "He was a mentor to so many of us."
Gerig thought the most telling sign of Lugar's character came in 1996 when Lugar ran for president. Members of the press called Gerig and other former workers asking what working for Lugar was really like.
"They were looking for dirt," Gerig said. "And I told them 'You won't get anything from me.' There was no dirt to be had on Lugar."