Thursday morning’s ceremony honoring Bob Dole is one of many days held in Washington for the former Republican senator and presidential candidate.
WASHINGTON – Bob Dole will be in the state on Thursday at the United States Capitol as the President and others gather to pay tribute to an “American giant” who has served the country pragmatically during war and politics , spirit of self-mockery and a sense of a bygone era of common civility.
President Joe Biden is expected to speak at the morning ceremony with guests and congressional leaders in the Capitol Rotunda for the former Republican senator and presidential candidate. Dole, who served almost 36 years in Congress, died Sunday at the age of 98.
âFor those like me who had the honor of calling him a friend, Bob Dole was an American giant,â President Joe Biden said in a speech Wednesday in Kansas City, Missouri.
Biden, a Democrat, called Dole, a Republican, “a man of extraordinary courage, both physical and moral.” A war hero, who sacrificed beyond all measure. Who almost gave his life for our country during WWII. Among the greatest of the great generation.
RELATED: Who decides who lies in a state or in honor?
The service will be the first of many in Washington commemorating the life and legacy of Dole. Thursday event at the Capitol and Friday’s funeral at the Washington National Cathedral is closed to the public. But Dole’s funeral will be broadcast live on Friday at the WWII Memorial on the National Mall, and his procession is expected to stop later at an event with actor Tom Hanks honoring his life and military service before that the coffin does not surrender to his Kansas hometown and state capital.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Dole was a “patriot from the start” and an “exemplary person to serve in Congress.”
âHe served at a time when there was mutual respect, although there was disagreement on many issues, across the aisle, across the Capitol,â Pelosi said Wednesday. âI found him to be a man of his word. Everyone did it.
Black drapes hung from the doors under the dome of the Capitol in preparation for the service. A lectern was placed so that the statue of another Kansas statesman, Dwight Eisenhower, was likely seen in the background behind the day’s speakers.
Senator Mitch McConnell, now the longest-serving Republican Senate leader, said Dole idolized Eisenhower, calling the former president and general a hero who embodied “the finest qualities of the American people.”
“We can say with certainty that Eisenhower is not the only Kansan to meet these standards,” McConnell said in a speech earlier this week.
Born a child of the Dust Bowl in Russell, Kan., Dole suffered crippling and near-fatal injuries after being shot during World War II which sent him home with a badly damaged right arm he could not use to shake hands. Instead, Dole held a pen in it and reached out with his left hand to put the hosts at ease.
After earning a law degree, he worked as a county attorney and was a Kansas state legislator before running for Congress in 1960, joining the House for eight years and then winning the Senate seat. He was the GOP presidential candidate in 1996, his third and last presidential campaign – a race he never won.
Dole’s quick-wittedness manifested itself after losing the presidential election to incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton, who awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom days before the 1997 inauguration.
McConnell said that at the time of Dole’s remarks, he stood at the platform and began, “I, Robert J. Doleâ¦ I swear so solemnlyâ¦ oh, sorry, bad speech!” “
But this humor was rarely seen during the election campaign or in his public statements, where it could have helped him gain more votes.
Instead, Dole was seen as a GOP âax manâ, a Richard Nixon mentee and Chairman of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate era. He became Gerald Ford’s sharp-tongued vice-presidential running mate, another lost race.
But it was during Dole’s long career in the Senate that he saw the value of reaching Democrats and achieved his most enduring achievements, including the Americans with Disabilities Act which to this day guarantees a standard accessibility as a civil right. .
At times Dole has stood up to his own party, especially over a historic tax bill, and helped create the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday.
The former senator announced in February 2021 that he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Biden visited Dole at his home in the Watergate complex.