Veterans Day and Senator Bob Dole

Veterans Day and Senator Bob Dole.jpg

In honor of Veterans Day, I want to share a story about meeting a distinguished veteran at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. You might be familiar with him. 94-year-old former Senator Robert “Bob” Dole.

In September, my wife’s family was visiting us from Israel. In the flurry of sightseeing, we had to show them our nation’s capital. Politics aside, the edifices in which our lawmakers meet are truly stunning. As we were about to enter the World War II Memorial, I spotted Senator Dole sitting in his wheelchair greeting people.

Two years prior, I had read in Michael Smerconish’s column that Senator Dole visits this memorial on weekends to greet visitors – in particular, veterans and their families. This wasn’t for publicity or with fanfare; he simply wanted to honor them for their service to our country. On a previous trip, I was hoping to introduce my sons to Senator Dole, but he was ill at that time.

I wasn’t going to squander my opportunity this time.

I waited in line while he greeted people ahead of me. When it was my turn, I introduced myself and pointed out my family nearby. I had worked in Washington many years ago when he was the Senate Majority Leader, and I remember how he tried to work on a bi-partisan level to enact important legislation to help all US citizens. When I said this all to him, a great smile came across his face.

He said:

“You know, we were able to get an awful lot done to help people improve their lives because we really worked together – regardless of what party we belonged to or where we came from in the United States.”

The Senator went on to discuss how proud he was of his time in Congress. A friend who was with him offered to take a picture of the two of us, which of course I was thrilled to do. We chatted for a few more minutes about his work and greeting veterans and visitors alike at the World War II Memorial.

The line grew bigger, and I knew it was time to depart. I said one final goodbye and well wishes, and I left with my family to continue exploring the Capitol.

As I walked away, I thought about the Senator’s military service. He was a young soldier in Italy during World War II; he was badly injured, resulting in the loss of use of one of his arms.

I thought about his service to his country during his many years in Congress and now, in his twilight years, as a retired citizen taking time each weekend to greet and honor those who come to remember the military personnel who were less lucky than him. The ones who paid the ultimate price in the ongoing battle to protect our country.

On this Veterans Day, we remember and honor our many veterans like Senator Dole who have served and continue to serve our country.