Bob Dole, the Republican senator and former presidential candidate who survived a grievous combat wound in World War II to personify the grit and dedication of the “Greatest Generation” in politics and in life, has died.
He was 98 years old.
“It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep,” the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced on Twitter. “At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”
It is with heavy hearts we announce that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died early this morning in his sleep. At his death, at age 98, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years. More information coming soon. #RememberingBobDole pic.twitter.com/57NtGfqtmL
— Elizabeth Dole Foundation (@DoleFoundation) December 5, 2021
In February, Dole revealed that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and said he was starting treatment, according to NBC.
In 1976, Dole was then-President Gerald Ford’s vice-presidential running when Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter.
Bob Dole was the type of man who at 96, unable to walk and struggling badly with his health, wanted to be held up so he could salute the casket of a fellow WWII veteran and former president pic.twitter.com/udvVDSYg17
— Sunny McSunnyface (@sunnyright) December 5, 2021
In January 2018, he received a Congressional Gold Medal.
“I want to thank all those who’ve said such kind words about me,” Dole said at the time according to NBC, joking, “They’re probably not true, but they were nice.”
Dole was badly wounded in combat in Italy in 1945, leaving him with limited function in his left arm and none in his right.
RIP Bob Dole (1923-2021), an elder statesman and an American hero. ???
He lived a life of service, patriotism and honor we should all aspire to emulate. pic.twitter.com/Wa9fWdlBtb
— Reaganite ?????? (@emperoreagan) December 5, 2021
Dole led the campaign to raise the $170 million for the World War II Memorial that opened in 2004 in Washington.
In 2018, even when using a wheelchair, Dole greeted each veteran coming to the memorial.
“It’s just about the one public service left that I’m doing,” Dole said then, according to The Washington Post.
“We don’t have many of the World War II vets left. It’s important to me.”
“I tell them it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what war you served in, whether you were wounded or not wounded,” Dole said then, according to the Post’s account, which was filled with vignettes of Dole meeting others who had served. “We’re all in this together.”
Bob Dole championed the WWII Memorial, was the biggest supporter of Honor Flights, and personally attended many of our trips — famously waiting to greet each and every hero.
We salute Bob Dole & mourn his passing this morning after 79 years of faithful service to our country. pic.twitter.com/rhOIFrGe4Y
— Honor Flight Chicago (@Honor_Flight_CH) December 5, 2021
Dole’s war record was recalled by The New York Times in its obituary, noting, “As the old soldiers of World War II faded away, Mr. Dole, who had been a lieutenant in the Army’s storied 10th Mountain Division and was wounded so severely on a battlefield that he was left for dead, came to personify the resilience of his generation.”
Dole enlisted in 1943. Recovery from his wound would take three years.
The Times noted words said about Dole by the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in a 1996 campaign stop.
“This is the last crusade of a great warrior,” McCain said then. “A member of a generation of Americans who went out and made the world safe for democracy so that we could have lives that were far better for ourselves and for our children.”
According to the Times, Dole’s survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Dole, a former North Carolina senator and former secretary of transportation, and a daughter, Robin Dole.
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