As a decorated war hero, Bob Dole is entitled to a full honors burial and internment at a Veterans Cemetery of his choosing.

An American legend died early Sunday, Dec. 5. Bob Dole, who was paralyzed from the neck down after taking a near-direct hit from an artillery shell at the end of World War II, died in his sleep.

As a young Lieutenant in an Infantry Platoon, Dole left the battlefield on a stretcher and was expected to die of his severe wounds. Loaded with morphine, Dole was shipped to a hospital, stabilized, then sent for rehabilitation assignments at Army and VA hospitals. After two years in rehabilitation, Capt. Bob Dole was discharged honorably. For his combat wounds he received two Purple Heart medals and the Bronze Star Medal with a V for valor.

Dole has frequently said that he thought his war wounds and permanent disabilities would have relegated him to be “a pencil salesman.”

No longer paralyzed, Dole would earn a law degree, hold state and county office, serve in the Congress and Senate. He would earn a Vice President nomination on the Gerald R. Ford ticket and later lose a Presidential bid to Bill Clinton.

As a Senate Majority Leader Dole would champion the Americans with Disability Act and push for the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Realizing that many WW II Veteran’s couldn’t afford the trip to D.C. to see their memorial, he worked for Honor Flights to get those veterans and an escort to DC.

On Dole’s last day in the Senate, he was honored in bipartisan manner by having a balcony named in his honor. That balcony was informally known as “Dole Beach.” Senate members and staffers would meet with Dole on that balcony and many agreements were made on legislation on that spot.

Some Valley politicos will remember the Dole Presidential campaign rallies at Palm Springs International Airport in the Bob Pond Hangar and another at Del Webb Sun City in Bermuda Dunes. Both rallies were packed with supporters.

Former State Sen. Jim Battin introduced both President Ford and Elizabeth Dole at the Sun City event. The place was packed to see Gerald Ford and Elizabeth Dole. It’s a rally that almost didn’t include Gerald and Betty Ford.

When Ford learned of the rally he wanted to come out and support Dole. However, an overzealous young campaign worker said, “We don’t have time to meet with Gerald Ford.”

Seems a call went to Sen. Dole’s D. C. office and his Chief of Staff — and suddenly the Dole Campaign would grant a meeting before the rally with the Fords and Elizabeth Dole. While the rally was a great success, Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole convincingly. Dole and Ford were lifelong allies and friends.

Dole and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., returned to the desert for the popular Indian Wells Town Hall. The duo had the audience in tears with the jokes and jabs they traded. Dole was optimistic that bipartisan work in the Senate could return. Today, the senate is filled with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two Independents. Our Vice President is the deciding vote on many new laws and Dole’s hope for bipartisanship hasn’t materialized. Despite holding just 48 seats the Democrats control the Senate.

Bob Dole was a great storyteller, often made jokes at his own expense, and on occasion he could be somewhat heated in debate on the floor of the Senate. His back and forth with West Virginia’s Sen. Robert Byrd is still fresh in the minds of those who saw it firsthand.

The two were masters of Senate Rules and battled over them in a heated but polite exchange. After all, the Senate is a place that the framers intended to be a deliberative body.

As a decorated war hero, Bob Dole is entitled to a full honors burial and internment at a Veterans Cemetery of his choosing. Memorial service and funeral plans have not been made public at this time.

Flags at the Capitol were lowered to half-staff in honor of Sen. Dole. He was a great patriot, he fought on the field of battle for freedom for those he did not know and in the halls of the Capitol for Americans from all walks of life and all colors and creeds.

He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and one adult child. May he rest in peace.

Image Sources

  • Bob Dole: Shutterstock