Former Army Captain and U.S. Senator Bob Dole was laid to rest Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony that reflected his honorary promotion to colonel in 2019.
The flag-draped coffin of Dole, who won the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts as a lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy in 1945, was carried by caisson to his final resting place, a horse without rider accompanying the procession to symbolize the officer. last look at those he left behind.
Dole died Dec. 5 at the age of 98.
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Unlike the grand funeral held on Dec. 10, where President Joe Biden delivered the eulogy at Washington’s National Cathedral, the ceremony at Dole’s grave was relatively small, attended by his widow, former Senator Elizabeth Dolé; daughter Robin; family; and friends. Also in attendance were former Senate colleagues, as well as current Kansas Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.
Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment and the Army Band provided the farewell ceremony, complete with a traditional three-round volley and a game of “Taps”.
The presence of a riderless horse, also called a caparisoned horse, is an honor reserved for army and navy officers with the rank of colonel and above.
Retired Navy Rear Admiral Barry Black, who is now Senate chaplain, led the group in prayer, speaking of a day when friends and family would be reunited with Dole in what Black described as a “great morning awakening”.
“Almighty God, as you called our brother Robert in this life, now you called him in eternal life,” Black said.
Dole is known as a three-time presidential candidate and former senator from Kansas who served in Congress, first in the House and then in the Senate, from 1960 to 1996.
But for many veterans, he is remembered as a soldier who spent his final years supporting former service members; co-chairman of a commission that investigated a scandal over the egregious living conditions of wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC; and connect with WWII veterans and visitors to the National WWII Memorial in DC
Dole enlisted in the army in 1942 and was called up in 1944 as an officer, joining the 10th Mountain Division as a second lieutenant. On April 14, 1945, his company was attempting to take a hill in Italy when it encountered enemy fire.
Dole threw a grenade into a machine gun nest, then dived into the hole, dragging his platoon radioman, who had been hit. When he attempted to leave the foxhole, he took the brunt of a shell in his back, first crippling him from the neck down.
He underwent nine surgeries and never regained use of his right arm – a disability that later led to him becoming an Americans With Disabilities Act champion.
Dole became the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, but after losing to President Bill Clinton, he quit politics altogether – as well as being the husband of Elizabeth Dole, who served one term representing Carolina North.
In a ceremony presided over by then-Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, Dole was honorably promoted in 2019 to the rank of colonel – only the third soldier to receive the honor. The other two were George Washington, promoted to general of the armies, and Lieutenant William Clark, promoted posthumously to captain in recognition of his journey through what would later become the United States with Meriwether Lewis.
On Wednesday, Milley, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the folded flag from the coffin to Dole’s widow.
“Senator. Elizabeth. On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service to Lt. Dole, Captain Dole, Senator Dole,” Milley said.
Dole was buried in Section 4, in an area known as Coast Guard Hill, which houses the Cemetery’s Coast Guard Memorial and numerous graves of Coast Guard men and women – the same section where Dole’s Senate colleague and former Secretary of the Navy, John Warner, was buried last year.
From Dole’s grave, visitors have views of the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the dome of his beloved United States Capitol.
In his own words, in a opinion piece published in the Washington Post shortly after his deathDole wrote about his love for the country and its symbols – and his hope for unity as a nation moving forward.
“Many nights during my time as Majority Leader, I would step out onto the balcony of my office overlooking the National Mall and reminisce about what had made my trip possible. In front of me were monuments to the first commander-in-chief of our nation, the author of our Declaration of Independence, and the president who held our union together. Far away were the countless graves of those who gave their lives so that we might live free,” wrote Dole. “Our nation has certainly had times of division. But at the end of the day, we have always found ways to unite. We can find that unity again.”
— Patricia Kime can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.
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