WASHINGTON - Former U.S. Senator and Republican stalwart Bob Dole said Wednesday he is “extremely honored” to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
The 94 year-old Kansas native received Congress’ highest civilian honor in a ceremony in the U.S. capitol, attended by many of his friends and former colleagues, including President Donald Trump.
Trump called Dole a “great American” who “rose up from a small town in the heart of America to become a soldier and a congressman and a leader admired by all.”
Dole thanked everyone for their “kind words,” and, in typical Dole fashion, added “They’re probably not true, but they’re kind.”
Soldier, legislator, statesman
The medal represents “the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions,” according to the House of Representatives. It was awarded to Dole for his service to the U.S. as a soldier, legislator, and statesman.
That service began 75 years ago when Dole joined the Army in World War II and was sent to Europe. He was seriously wounded in Italy in 1945, and he lost the use of his right hand and arm.
A Dole trademark was to always carry a pencil in his affected hand so anyone meeting him wouldn’t try to grasp and shake that hand.
Dole was a member of the House of Representatives from Kansas from 1961 until 1969 when he was elected to the Senate.
As Senate Minority and later Majority Leader for nine years, Dole earned respect from liberals and conservatives as a dealmaker and voice of moderation.
He was Gerald Ford’s vice-presidential running mate in 1976 and ran for the White House three times. He won the Republican nomination in 1996, but lost the election to incumbent Democratic President Bill Clinton.
Active after leaving Senate
After leaving the Senate, Dole became more visible and busy than ever, as an author, political commentator, commercial spokesman, and television personality.
He also remained a presence in the Capitol as a registered lobbyist for several foreign governments and domestic entities, including the Chocolate Manufacturers Association.
Additionally, Dole led the campaign that raised funds for the National World War II Memorial in Washington.
He was the only former Republican presidential nominee to endorse Donald Trump for president.