tv WWII Memorial Wreath- Laying Ceremony Honoring Bob Dole CSPAN December 11, 2021 6:11am-7:00am EST
>> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, ms. savannah guthrie. [applause] >> hello, good often, everybody. it is so heartening and wonderful to see so many of you come out to honor our friend, a great american treasure, senator bob dole. and it is fitting that we would meet here, at the world war ii memorial, because this, of course, is the place that senator bob would come so often, especially in his later years, to meet you. he came here looking for you. soldier, service member, caregiver, patriot.
he came to grasp your hand, to lock eyes, to convey what could never be sufficiently captured with words alone. bravery. selflessness. sacrifice. loyalty. those are the qualities that animate so many pilgrimages to this place and on some cold mornings, his seemed a one-man mission to honor those journeys. and to stand in solidarity with those who could never make them. thousands upon thousands upon thousands of young lives memorialized here, of which bob dole was almost one. this monument is made of stone. his life was a flesh and blood monument to the values we revere here. i have to marvel that of all people it should be me here today talking about senator
dole. we met only a few years ago and yet somehow he and mrs. dole, senator elizabeth, took me under their wing, embraced me, and befriended me. they would call to ask about the kids, to chat about the big game. over the years they might send treats or an admired book or a note of encouragement. during the pandemic, we even went to have a safe time with my then 3 and 5-year-olds and the dole dogs. that was wild. when i told senator bob that the pandemic had forced me to anchor the news from my basement, he didn't miss a beat and said, well irk guess you've really hit rock bottom now. in short, what a glorious surprise, so marvelous and unexpected, this treasure of relationship. and ideas it, a valuable lesson. senator bob showed me that even well into your 90's, it is never too late to make a new friend. we are all here this afternoon
because bob dole stood for something. he stood for principles. he stood for dignity he stood for integrity. he stood for friendship. he stood for his country. that he fought and bled for. a son of kansas, a young man brimming with talent and promise and ambition, he went off to do his duty and came back, body broken and dreams smashed he suffered unfathomably. but he willed himself to recover and heal and find a new path. he stood for resilience and determination and hope. and even when he couldn't stand any longer, at the casket of an old friend, who could forget, still he stood, out of respect and out of honor. they were the greatest generation. but senator bob believed in the promise of every generation and this one too. don't let your spirits fall
today, don't cast your eyes downward and say, there goes one of the last good ones. do what he would do and raise them up. believe in the promise of this country and the goodness of its people. in these divided time, you may say that is not easy to do. but easy isn't what is asked of any of us. bob dole once called himself the most optimistic man in america and if he could be, surely we can too. what an extraordinary life. to the love of that life, dearest elizabeth, i know how deeply you greve your beloved, how sweet was the company you kept for nearly 50 years, how you will miss the humor and charm of your dearest companion. i also know of your deep faith and of his and that connection between you is eternal and unbroken. it is how you will hold hands
with him until you meet again. over the summer, i called to wish the doles a happy birthday, they're both july babies. i was just about to leave for tokyo to cover the summer olympics. senator bob told me, keep your eye on the quarter-miler, his old track event, the 44 yard dash. he still remembered his best time, that kansas racetrack was not far from mind. as i thought about this week, the old scripture came to memory, second timothy 7, i have fought the good fight, i have run the race, i have kept the faith. senator dole has fought the good fight, run the race. now i imagine him in the heavens, no longer limited by his earthly wounds, able to run
again with speed and lightness and grace. or maybe, better yet, to rest in peace and satisfaction for a life well lived. thank you senator bob and thank you senator elizabeth for the honor of knowing you. to dear robin and the extended dole family, my deepest condolences and thank you for the privilege of a lifetime to speak here today. and now, i'll introduce a great friend of senator dole's and a great friend of this museum and this place, mr. tom hangs. hanks. -- hanks. >> good afternoon. which senator called. senator dole. answer the question. wonderful to see you, robin. the pacific ocean and the atlantic ocean.
the two theaters of conflict. 48 states at the time and every american territory. totallying -- totaling now 50 states. and still a born part of america. to appreciate the life and accomplishments of bob cole, simply look around at where we have gathered today at this national memorial to the americans who gave their lives for the common good and the common cause of saving the world from tyrants. when bob dole fulfilled his duty in that war, which burned up half the world, the cost he paid was a hard one for him to bear. he lost he use of a limb. and part of his once-strong
shoulders on a cold mountainside in italy to an enemy that was trying to kill him. they failed. to recover, bob dole lay in a hard plaster body cast for 39 months, roughly 1,170 days, aided by all those who cared for the wounded veterans of that war. he worked himself through the long, hard sessions of physical toil just to be able to go about the routine motions of an average day. and yet, he was never able again to button a shirt or sign his name as he had. he saluted and he made your acquaintance with his left hand. the folks from russell, kansas, they knew bob dole.
and they knew the price he had paid. and they came forward to aid his recovery. their nickels and dimes, the hard-earned dollars they volunteered to do without. were collected in cigar boxes and made possible the rest of bob cole's life of service. who could ever forget such largess, such support, such a loving effort to ease the hard work of a son of kansas who had once been, yes, the best-looking senior at russell high school. bob dole never forgot them. never. and if he was here today the mention of those coins in a cigar box would reduce him to tears. there are many great lessons to take away from bob dole's life.
go to the other guy's office. so you can decide when the meeting is over and get up and walk out. speak straight, even when it gets you in trouble, because it will, but at least everyone will know how you stand. and what you stand for. and always plan not just to win, but win big. yes, you may try and fail. but you will not fail to try. and always, always, remember. how many structures in this city exist but for the efforts of one man? the national world war ii memorial was built over two white house administrations with a -- with the contributions of
americans like you. but it was bob dole who willed this memorial into place. he pushed the idea, he corralled the votes, he mode the phone call, enlisted allies, all of us, in the cause, and he raised the money. he did all but mix the concrete himself. which he may have done had he had the use of that right arm. this memorial stands in this rightful site because bob dole remembered. he remembered the nearly half a million souls who, unlike him, never came home from the second world war. he remembered the years of service the surviving americans had invested. yet this memorial was not built only for the generation it honors, any more than it was
erected to crow of their victory. bob dole called this a memorial to peace. so that all generations would remember that peace is achieved in shared labor. by shared sacrifice. by volunteering for the shared duty, if peace is to be won and if we americans are to continue our pursuit of a more perfect nation in an imperfect world. there are other great americans remembered by memorials on this wide, long patch of green here in our capitol. places that hold the essence of their honor and their ethos. of their character and their efforts. places where we feel a part of them, of all that they did and all that they tried to do, a bit
of their presence. when we visit. bob dole came to this plaza often. to remember. to talk with veterans like himself. and to their posterity. by greeting them with a shake of his left hand. the memory and conscience of the man himself will always be here, right here, for as long as there is in america, and that is a good thing because here we will always remember bob dole.
>> senator dole rose to the rank of captain during his time in uniform and nearly 75 years later he was conferred the honorary rank of colonel at this very memorial by our next speaker, the 20th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, i'm honored to introduce general mark milley. >> thank you, savannah and tom, for those kind words. senator elizabeth, i think senator bob probably heard you when you said let there be sun. so there you go, perfect timing. he heard your prayer. i want to welcome everyone here and i want to particular welcome anyone who served in the second world war. are there any world war ii veterans here today? [applause] i am incredibly humbled to have
the honor to speak here today as the son of a mother who served in world war ii, took care of the wounded in the pacific, and a father who served with the fourth marine division and hit the beach at saipan and iwo jima and like senator bob, they have passed on. it truly is a remarkable generation. and today is a solemn day for our nation. as we collectively mourn but more importantly, we celebrate the life of senator bob dole. an incredible example of a lifetime of selfless service to our nation. and it's fitting that we're here, surrounded by this world war ii monument that senator dole did so much to build. a memorial dedicated to 16 million americans who donned the
cloth of our nation and fought in world war ii and almost a half million who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of the liberties we enjoy every day. senator dole's commitment to this democracy is unwavering, a democracy he died to defend and he died just recently in order to give his life for this country. he almost died in world war ii. he had a life of service defending this democracy, and we honor him today for his entire life. senator dole began his career serving in the united states -- serving the united states on the battlefields of europe during world war ii, as so many here know. 80 years ago this week, on 7
december, 1941, the japanese launched a surprise attack on what we now know as a day of infamy, an attack on our fleet at pearl harbor. senator dole was just a humble kid from russell, kansas, whose family had struggled through the depression, through the dust bowl. and on that day on 7 december 1941, he was just a freshman in college at the university of kansas. and like many young americans, like you, like my mother, like my father, like many of our mothers and fathers, the surprise attack on the united states on that day invoked his patriotic spirit and began his journey into the hell of combat. second lieutenant dole was assigned to the famous 10th
mountain division, and we are blessed today to have the commanding general of the current 10th mountain division here with us along with his sergeant major. at the time in world war ii, the 10th mountain was in northern italy fighting in the mountains against the fortified german defense known as the gothic line. bob dole, lieutenant dole was assigned to the 85th infantry, and he was the platoon leader for second platoon india company positioned near a small town in northern italy. india company's mission was to attack and seize hill 913, a small hill located just to the northwest of the town. and that hill covered, it was the dominating feature and covered the terrain at the mouth of the valley that the u.s. forces needed to cross. the company, including second lieutenant dole and his second
platoon commenced the attack on the early morning hours of 14 february 1945, less than 30 days before d.e. day, celebrating the end of the war in europe in may. after only going a short distance, one of the men in front of the column in lieutenant dole's platoon stepped on a land mine, triggering an explosion that shattered the stillness of the morning. the world exploded around lieutenant dole and his company as machine guns began to fire and grenades and mortars filled the air as german soldiers concealed in their defensive position opened fire on the 10th mountain. the company commander called lieutenant dole and told him to continue the attack. he gave his platoon the mission to take out the german machine gun nest. lieutenant dole assembled the assault squad and positioned the rest of his men forward to
provide covering fire. he was 21 years old. he and his soldiers attacked without hesitation, led by the lieutenant, lieutenant bob dole. initially, crawling on their bellies through an open field and then rushing forward up a hill to the machine gun. as they closed in on the german position, the german fire intensified and many of the soldiers in the second platoon were wounded or killed. lieutenant dole looked around him and he looked for his radio man, his r.t.o., private sims, and he saw him a short distance away slumped over not moving, still clutching his radio. lieutenant dole scrambled across the dirt where private sims lay. lieutenant dole grabbed him by the shirt and began to drag him toward the relative safety of a nearby bomb crater. they hadn't moved more than a
few feet when an enemy machine gun and shrapnel from an exploding mortar round tore into bob dole's back, near his right shoulder. the impact throwing him to the ground. he was very badly wounded. his right arm and shoulder were completely mangled. his spinal cord was severely damaged, and he was unable to move either his arms or his legs. another soldier, frank, reached out and dragged lieutenant dole, dragged him back behind a nearby stone wall and thereby saved his life. lieutenant dole lay there facing up in the dirt, not knowing whether he would live or die, unable to move as the battle raged around him and he lay there for 10 consecutive hours before medics were able to reach
him. india company fought all through the day into the next day and they finally took hill 913. in the end, india company, bob dole's company, and the other 10th mountain units fight are for hill 913, suffered 650 casualties of which 98 were killed in action. medics eventually got to lieutenant dole and they evacuated him. he left the battlefields of italy and his war was over, but his fight was really just beginning. for months he was largely confined to a bed, as tom hanks mentioned, in a full body cast. he fought blood clots and life-threatening infections and he fought despair and hope. but just as he did in the dirt on hill 913, lieutenant dole refused to give in. and as we know, he persevered.
he healed and he went on to distinguish himself in the service of his country, this country many, many times over in both the house of representatives and the senate over 35-year political career. after leaving congress in 1996, senator dole didn't slow down. he didn't stop advocating for worthy causes. in addition to practicing law and authoring several books, he served as a board member for the world food program. he served as the head of the memorial foundation for this memorial, and he raised millions of dollars to make this a reality. so today, we're honoring a man of deep character and tremendous accomplishment, a long and impressive record of selfless service. he suffered, he endured, and he showed us all what hope can do.
so why, why did bob dole do it? why did bob dole raise his right hand in 1942 and swear an oath of allegiance to the constitution of the united states of america? and after being wounded, when he couldn't raise his right hand any longer, he raised his left hand to swear his oath. why? why, knowing the danger he could be wounded or killed? why knowing he will be criticized in the public arena as a politician? why? why did he raise his hand on 14 april 1945 and said i'll lead the attack on hill 913? why did bob dole have such a clear calling to serve? why did he refuse to be stopped by the enemy? he did it for an idea, an idea
that is america. he swore an oath to a document, the constitution, not to a king or queen or dictator or tyrant. he swore an oath to an idea, an idea that says that no matter who you are, whether you're male or female, whether you're black, white, asian or indian, or no matter what the color of your skin, doesn't matter where you came from or whether you're catholic, protestant, jew, doesn't matter if you believe or don't believe, doesn't matter if you're rich, poor, from the city or the country, under the colors that he served, under the colors of red, white, and blue, in this country, bob dole knew we were all born free and equal. and in this country, you are
going to have an opportunity. you are going to rise or fall based on your merit, your talent, your skills, your attributes, and you are going to be judged by the content of your character, your integrity, your perseverance, and your willingness to serve. he fought, and more importantly, he lived for an idea, an idea that says, a kid from kansas, some small town who can make it through the depression, can go to college, play sports, become an officer in the army, go to law school, run for congress, become a senator, and run three times for president. he fought and lived. he fought and lived for that idea. and he built this monument to the other 16 million who fought and lived for that idea. when others would have given up, bob dole never did. when others saw obstacles, he saw opportunity. he continually raised his hand, mangled as it was, to support
and defend the constitution of the united states of america against all enemies, foreign and domestic. he served the army. he served the state of kansas. he served his political party. but above all, he served his country, and he served his fellow american. bob dole always, always put his country first. he was a great example of a selfless servant of this republic for which we stand. and we are all better off of the service of senator bob dole. a member of the greatest generation, a statesman, a hero in every sense of the word, and may god bless him. may god bless senator elizabeth dole. may god bless his entire family, robin and the extended family. and may god bless the united states of america. [applause]
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