His last assignments were in Washington, D.C. As Commanding General, Military District of Washington, he was frequently the Ranking Officer responsible for escorting dignitaries. He escorted the Nixon family to the funeral of President Nixon. He escorted South African President Nelson Mandela to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. When President Clinton found that the former commander of the Tuskegee Airmen Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis (USMA 1936) had not been promoted to full General no doubt due to matters of race, he promoted him in 1996, 30 years after he had retired. Major General Gorden escorted General Davis to the ceremony, and they became close friends until his death in 2002. While we celebrate many of these pioneers, it is often hard to imagine the challenges they faced at the time. General Davis described to Gorden, as he also does in his autobiography, that he had not returned to West Point from 1936 until 1987, the painful memories of being ostracized for four years at West Point as the fourth African-American graduate made returning to West Point undesirable. Major General Gorden closed his career in 1996, retiring as Army Chief of Public Affairs.
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