Big Chuck Salutes Sen. Bob Dole on Veterans Day, 2013 (VIDEO)
So many times over the last half century or so men have chased their dream to become president of the United States. Some are driven to it, others are pushed to it. A couple of these men who never made it to the highest office in the land continued to serve with high distinction in the U.S. Congress after failing at the electoral ballot box.
Minnesota Senator and former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey was the liberal standard bearer for the Democratic party for more than four decades. A true "Lion of the Senate," Humphrey tried several times to grab the brass ring, the presidency, but came up short. In 1968 he came achingly close losing to Richard Nixon in the narrowest presidential race on record. Humphrey continued to serve in the U.S. Senate until he died. He was praised for his passion and ideas by members of both parties.
Senator Robert Dole is another one. I agreed with almost nothing this native son of Kansas stood for politically. But for more than a quarter century he represented his constituents with integrity and determination and they loved him for it. He too tried for the presidency but came up short.
Bob Dole was from the "greatest generation." My father's generation. He left a piece of himself on a mountainside in Italy during World War II. His injuries on the battlefield were so severe that medical corpsman who found him scrawled an "M" across his forehead in his own blood basically letting others who would come upon him know that they had administered a massive dose of morphine to him and that he was probably going to die.
With sheer grit and incredible determination Bob Dole survived the war and although his arm would never function again, he continued on in a career of politics and rose to become one of the most respected leaders of his party.
Do you know what Bob Dole does today? Either every Saturday or Sunday the former senator can usually be found sitting in his wheelchair at the World War II Memorial in Washington greeting veterans who come to visit their monument. His wife, Elizabeth, wheels him in and out of the crowd, stopping to swap war stories with the old warriors, posing for pictures, sharing ailments, offering encouragement. His body is bent and broken but his spirit is very much alive
He is now 90 years old.
The veterans of the United States have never had a friend as steadfast and as reliable as the senator from Kansas. And for that, on Veterans Day 2013, I salute one of the last of the old warriors of World War II, Bob Dole, "The Man From Russell, Kansas" for a life well-lived and for being an inspiration to all who have ever worn the uniform of the U.S. military.
I hope you will watch this little video.