Senator Bob Dole was laid to rest with a three-volley salute and full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday. The Kansas native and decorated WWII hero died on December 5, 2021, after a battle with lung cancer. He was 98.
Services at Arlington had been pending for weeks as a number of other tributes took place across the country. Family and friends gathered at the Memorial Chapel at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Virginia, to memorialize the former Senate majority leader. Graveside services followed immediately afterwards.
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation shared some messages from inside the chapel.
“May God Bless Bob Dole. A man that so many people loved. His life and legacy lives on in us when we act with courage in service to others,” Major Mel O’Malley, chaplain, U.S. Army, said.
“God took the initiative on this Kansas athlete doing his thing. A God so wise, he knew what was best for Bob. A God so powerful he could do what was best for Bob. What a life,” Rear Admiral Barry C. Black, chaplain, U.S. Senate, said.
“The secret of Bob’s great life is that he became a ‘whosoever.’ He left a legacy of not just how to live but how to die,” Black said.
The casket team folded Dole’s flag as “America the Beautiful” played softly in the background. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley personally delivered the folded flag to former Sen. Elizabeth Dole afterwards from one knee.
Dole lived a life of perseverance and service
In February 2021, after a remarkable 36-year career in Congress and decade-plus stint in the Senate, Dole announced his cancer diagnosis.
Having been wounded himself in WWII, Dole personally advocated for the construction of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. He earned his Purple Heart as a 21-year-old Army platoon leader in northern Italy in 1945. As he charged a German position, a shell fragment hit him. It crushed two vertebrae and paralyzed his arms and legs. After three years in the hospital learning to regain function, Dole became a lawyer and a local Kansas politician. He never fully regained function of his right hand.
Dole now lays to rest amongst his roughly 400,000 brothers-at-arms in Arlington. Servicemen and women have been laid to rest at Arlington for over 150 years.
Dole, a native of Russell in western Kansas, secured the 1996 Republican presidential nominee; but lost that year to incumbent Democrat Bill Clinton. Known for his self-deprecating wit, Americans will remember Dole as pragmatic and bi-partisan — when needed — though a Republican through and through.
A shining example of American courage and exceptionalism, Dole lived a life of principle and service. He earned his seat at the table with years of dedication and work; all of which culminated in a vibrant, long life during the greatest (and most tumultuous) century in human history.