Bob Dole's Emotional Farewell to George HW Bush May Be the Most Powerful Moment of 2018


The body of former President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday at the age of 94, will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington D.C. until a memorial service is held Wednesday at the National Cathedral, after which he will be transported to College Station, Texas, to be buried at his presidential library at Texas A&M University alongside his late wife, Barbara Bush.

Plenty of high-profile political figures, both friends and former rivals, have come through the Rotunda to pay their last respects to the 41st president, but the visit to honor Bush by a formerly bitter rival turned close friend — former Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Bob Dole — has drawn significant attention due to how incredibly touching the moment was.

The 95-year-old Dole, who is confined to a wheelchair, was positioned near Bush’s flag-draped casket on the Rotunda on Tuesday. With some help from his aide, Dole was able to briefly stand up and offer a salute to the fallen leader, before being helped back down into his wheelchair.

He then sat solemnly for a moment and stared at the casket, obviously deep in thought and seemingly on the verge of shedding a tear for his departed friend.

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The spokesman for the former president, Jim McGrath, captured the inspiring moment when Dole raised a salute to Bush and posted it to social media.

McGrath tweeted, “A last, powerful gesture of respect from one member of the Greatest Generation, [Senator Dole], to another.”

Were you glad to see this display of honor and respect for Bush from Dole?

Both Bush and Dole are members of the rapidly dwindling “Greatest Generation” that came of age during the time of World War II, a conflict both men served admirably in prior to entering a lifetime of service on the political front later in life.

A report from TIME magazine in Dec. 2016, which marked how the two men had come together at Bush’s presidential library in honor of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, noted how the pair had formerly been bitter rivals who later became political allies, only to develop an actual close friendship in their later years.

Bush joined the U.S. Navy in 1942 and became a pilot who flew combat missions over the Pacific Ocean and was well decorated for his valor. Dole enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the infantry in Europe, where he was wounded terribly while leading a charge against a German machine gun nest in Italy in 1945. Those injuries damaged his spine and nearly cost him all use of his arms and legs, which he managed to somewhat regain after many years.

Long after the war, the two men came to know each other while serving together in the House of Representatives. Dole eventually became a senator while Bush entered the bureaucracy during the Nixon-Ford years.

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The duo inevitably butted heads and became bitter rivals as they twice battled each other for the Republican presidential nomination during the GOP primaries in 1980 and 1988.

But political ambitions were set aside following Bush’s 1988 victory and Dole, from his perch as a Senate leader, became a powerful ally to the president, reportedly even shedding tears when Bush was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 election.

Following the conclusion of their political careers, both men soon became fast friends and “comrades” who would occasionally chat about the war and Washington over drinks.

That friendship has unfortunately been interrupted by death now, and though he tried to remain as stoic as possible, the pain of the loss of a close friend was clearly visible on Dole’s face as he fought to stand and salute in a display of honor and respect for President Bush.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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