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Americans remember Senator Bob Dole and his life in public service

Daniel Costa

Asst. News Editor

Photo of Sen. Bob Dole via Kansas Historical Society

Lawyer, veteran and U.S. Senator Bob Dole passed away on Dec. 5 due to lung cancer. Dole was first diagnosed with lung cancer last February. His legacy lives on through his wife Elizabeth Hanford Dole and daughter Robin Dole. Several politicians throughout the nation have addressed and expressed their condolences to the family of the late senator, including President Joe Biden in a memorial service in tribute to him.

Despite being senator of Kansas, Dole has visited Rhode Island a few times to assist Republican politicians in the state. For instance, he visited RIC in 1972 on behalf of presidential candidate Richard Nixon. In a speech filled with his famous wit, Dole assisted Nixon and the Republicans in winning a state that has been firmly controlled by the Democrat Party. Former governor and U.S. senator of Rhode Island, John Chaffee and Dole were good friends. And during the 1990 election cycle, he campaigned for then-Republican Congresswoman Claudine Schneider (RI-02), who was running for U.S. Senate against Senator Claiborne Pell.

Dole was born and raised in Kansas and attended the University of Kansas. He was a renowned athlete, participating in several sports throughout his time in college. However, the eruption of World War II interrupted any plans Dole may have had.

Dole enlisted into the United States Army, subsequently earning the rank of second lieutenant. He served with honor, becoming gravely wounded by enemy artillery in 1945 towards the end of the war. Facing life threatening injuries, Dole recovered to then embark on a remarkable career in national politics.

He entered into local Kansas politics in his first steps in his political career, entering the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950. His entry into national politics came in 1960 upon election to the United States House of Representatives. Dole would go on to serve Kansas and the nation in the House, Senate and even attempted to run for the presidency three times, although he was unsuccessful.

Nevertheless, Dole was respected on both sides of the aisle. His memorial service emphasized that notion, with politicians and other figures from either side of the political spectrum showing up to pay their respects to who Biden dubbed, “a giant of history.” Indeed, the speech Biden delivered to those present revolved around Dole’s willingness to compromise with the other side when necessary for the nation. Dole himself mulled on the question of national fraternity in his last op-ed to the public before his death.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the life of Dole, it is the lesson that Americans need not compromise their most intrinsic beliefs for the sake of others' opinions. As long as civility prevails in interactions between one American to another, then Dole believes the nation will be just fine.

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