Former Vice President Robert (“Bob”) Dole (R – Kan.) died of lung cancer Sunday after 98 years of life. With this, the generation that fought the Second World War, and that has sometimes been called the “greatest generation,” has at last passed from the scene of American leadership.
In April 1945, while engaged in combat in Italy, Dole was seriously wounded, and nearly killed, by a German shell. He did slowly recover, but he never regained the use of his right hand. He received two purple hearts, and a bronze medal.
Dole spent a lot of his life near the top of the U.S. political ladder. He chaired the Republican National Committee (1971-73), became the Senate Majority Leader in 1984, and was the Republican nominee for President in 1996.
Dole was considered a ‘moderate Republican’ in some circles. From some within the Republican Party, that was an accusation. He addressed it in his nomination address in ’96. “In politics honorable compromise is no sin,” he said. “It is what protects us from absolutism and intolerance”
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In December 2018, Dole, then age 95 and wheelchair bound, stood up with the help of an aide at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, and gave the late commander-in-chief a salute. We may all, in our hearts, give their generation of American leadership a salute. The torch has passed fully from their hands.