Bangor, ME—U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement on the passing of Bob Dole, the former Senate Majority Leader:
“On Dec. 4, 2018, President George H. W. Bush lay in state in the United States Capitol. Among the mourners was Senator Bob Dole. In a moment that will live forever in our national memory, the 95-year-old rose from his wheelchair and with his left arm – the only arm his heroism in World War II allowed him to use – saluted his fellow patriot.
“Today, we salute Senator Bob Dole and celebrate the courage, determination, and devotion to duty he demonstrated not just on that unforgettable day, but throughout his remarkable life. At the same time, I offer my deepest condolences to Senator Elizabeth Dole.
“Senator Dole defined the term ‘The Greatest Generation.’ Growing up in Russell, Kansas, during the Great Depression, he came from a family that was poor in material possessions but rich in the values of integrity, decency, hard work, and service to others.
“In 1942, with America plunged into war, Bob Dole enlisted in the United States Army and became a Second Lieutenant in the legendary 10th Mountain Division. On April 14, 1945, while engaged in combat in Italy, he was grievously wounded while saving a comrade. His recovery was painfully slow – more than three years – and left him with an outlook on life that still inspires us. Rather than dwell on what he had lost, he said later, he made up his mind to ‘focus on what I had left and what I could do with it.’
“When I first came to the Senate in 1997, I had the opportunity to hear a speech given by Senator Dole, which made an indelible impression. Bearing the wounds of his courageous service in World War II for more than a half-century, he said this: ‘We need to make our deepest commitments clear: that aging should not mean poverty; that disabilities should not mean indignity; that diversity should not mean discrimination.’
“Working together, Bob and Elizabeth Dole turned those words into action. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation they have led provides crucial support to both our wounded warriors and their family caregivers.
“During his 35 years in Congress, including 27 in the Senate, and throughout his 1996 presidential campaign, Senator Dole demonstrated time and again his love of our country and his devotion to its highest ideals. His sacrifice in war and his long and difficult recovery earned him the right to a life of personal pursuits. Instead he chose to continue to serve his country.
“Senator Dole’s Republican colleagues elected him Leader in 1985, including two stints as Majority Leader, until he resigned to run for President in 1996. His record as the second-longest serving Republican Leader in the history of the Senate demonstrates the respect he earned from his side of the aisle. But it was his willingness – indeed, his commitment – to reach across the aisle that produced such landmark achievements as saving Social Security, strengthening America’s hunger and nutrition programs, and reforming the tax code to better reward hard work and investment. Senator Dole’s bipartisan spirit is a vital part of his enduring legacy of leadership.
“For his heroism in Italy, Bob Dole received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. For his service to our nation, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, among many other accolades.
“I am certain, however, that the honor he most cherished is the affection and respect he earned from the American people. It is with affection, respect, and a heavy heart that I join men and women throughout our nation in saluting a true hero, Senator Bob Dole.”