KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial Wednesday morning honored Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. The ceremony took place a day before his casket would lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.
Dole will also be honored Friday in a private memorial service with President Joe Biden in attendance and a public service at the World War II Memorial in Washington. Dole served as the national chairman of the WWII memorial and helped bring it to fruition on the national mall in D.C., but it’s far from his only legacy.
Dr. Bob Beatty, professor of Political Science at Washburn University, Bill Lacy, Director Emeritus at the Dole Institute of Politics, and Fred Logan from the Dole Institute Advisory Board join FOX 4’s John Holt and The Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling as they share more about Dole’s life in this episode of 4Star Politics.
“Bob Dole was a titan of American politics in the last half of the 20th century,” Helling said. “He was a singular important figure in the history of this country.”
Dole joined the Army in 1942. He continued to serve his country in the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and during three Presidential runs over nearly 40 years. It’s difficult to find someone more influential than Dole was during his time in D.C.
“His record in the United States Senate was extraordinary. He’s certainly one of the most consequential people in my view to have ever served the United States Senate,” Logan said. “I mean, he was involved in landmark legislation, but always in a very skillful way. Not because of his ego, but because he thought that was what his job was, was to be a good legislator.”
Dole is credited with helping rescue social security in the early 1980s and played a vital role in the American’s with Disabilities Act. He also worked to expand the food stamp program.
“He was always a guy who was ready to go to work once the Senate was in session,” Logan said.
What made Dole remarkable was that he was also incredibly personable and approachable.
“He had an X-factor,” Beatty said. “We talk about politicians. We walk about leaders. We use these terms, and his X-factor was getting people to come into his office or he going to their office and work with him on an issue when very possibly the day before they’d been fighting over something.”
He was known for being partisan and worked to find common ground for the better good of the country and the people he represented in Kansas. But he also could get tough when he needed to.
“I think his perspective on things evolved over time. I think it was probably accelerated and marked by that very very tough, his toughest election campaign in 1974 when Bill Roy ran against him and almost beat him, and then two years later he is selected for the national ticket,” Lacy said. “He unfortunately had to be, because of the Ford Rose Garden strategy, he had to be an attack man for President Ford.”
While there’s no doubt Dole had a remarkable career, it’s not the only thing our guests will remember about him.
“The thing that’s most remarkable to me is that up until the pandemic hit he was still meeting Honor Flights at the WWII Memorial,” Lacy said.
Dole will return to his home state of Kansas one final time.
On Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m., a public viewing will be held at St. Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Russell. A service will be held at 11 a.m., with tribute remarks from Senators Pat Roberts, Jerry Moran, and Roger Marshall. The public will be invited to pass by the Senator’s casket following the service to pay their respects. At 1 p.m., Dole’s casket will depart for Topeka.
At 4 p.m., Gov. Kelly and a delegation of Kansas officials will receive Dole’s casket at the Kansas State Capitol.
After the service, Senator Dole’s casket and family will return to Washington, D.C. Senator Dole’s internment details are forthcoming.
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