Elizabeth Dole's introduction

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2011

Here is the introduction of Bob Dole made Tuesday by former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole when her husband was honored in Washington for his work in raising funds for the World War II Memorial:
“Mr. Vice President, you and Mrs. Biden honor us with your presence. Your participation makes this wonderful morning even more special and memorable, and we deeply appreciate the commitment to America’s veterans that you have exhibited throughout your remarkable public service career. Mrs. Biden, we are so grateful that you and our First Lady are doing such tremendous work for our military families.
“Tom, our thanks to you, a great master of ceremonies, for all you have done to shine a light on the courage and character and contributions of those you have so aptly named, the Greatest Generation.
“Secretary Salazar, Secretary Kempthorne, Secretary Shalala, Senator Inouye, Senator Roberts, thank you for your beautiful tributes to my husband, and all you did to make this day possible.
“Ladies and gentlemen, when Secretary Salazar asked me to introduce Bob Dole, I was tempted to talk about his many accomplishments and each of his remarkable qualities. But I am resisting that temptation for two reasons. First, such an endeavor would keep us here until sunset. And second, if I did so, I would only be repeating what you already know.
“You know the remarkable courage Bob exhibited when he wore the uniform of our country, and the courage he has shown every day, since his life was changed in the hills of Italy on April 14, 1945 — 66 years ago this Thursday.
“You know that America’s veterans could not have asked for a more committed or more effective advocate.
“You know that the plaque we dedicate this morning is richly deserved because this Memorial would not have become a reality without Bob’s leadership.
“You know the esteem in which he was held by his Congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and that he was elected six times by the Senate Republicans to serve as their leader.
“And that time after time, Senate employees — elevator operators, cafeteria workers — voted Bob Dole the nicest Senator.
“You know that his fingerprints can be found on almost every major piece of legislation passed during his years on Capitol Hill.
“You know he’s shown that strong leaders not only need a good backbone, they need a good funny bone.
“You know that he regards public service as a high and noble calling, and that throughout his life and career he has steadfastly exhibited the qualities of honesty, integrity, modesty, decency, fairness, love of God and love of country.
“You know all that and more.
“But what you may not know is that the qualities Bob Dole exhibits in public view are also the qualities he exhibits in his private life.
“You may not know of the many programs he has established since leaving the Senate to help solve the problems of people with disabilities, our senior citizens and those suffering from cancer.
“Indeed, no one will ever know for sure how many lives this very private man saved, when he decided to talk publicly about his experience with prostate cancer, and to crusade for PSA tests.
“And you may not know how many veterans with disabilities – young and old – this very private man inspired, when he shared the impact of his war experiences in his book, ‘One Soldier’s Story.’
“You may not know the number of friends in need and strangers who are hurting to whom he has given, generously and anonymously — the thirty trusts he has set up for his nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and even their babies.
“You may not know about the countless letters and phone calls he’s responded to from family members of veterans asking him to write or call a loved one in need of encouragement — or the fact that for decades he’s quietly visited patients in veterans’ hospitals and veterans’ homes across America.
“You may not know about the hundreds of times he’s welcomed, right here at the Memorial, his fellow World War II veterans traveling on Honor Flights, and the hours he’s spent with them, sharing stories and yes, some tears.
“You may not know that during a recent bout of medical challenges that would have defeated some half his age, he persevered without a moment of self-pity and without complaint, just as he did when he returned home severely wounded after the war. Indeed, whenever he could, during his hospitalization, he would spend time talking with wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan. I think these heroes — that’s just what they are — inspired each other.
“You may not know that nearly 15 years after he left the Senate, he still spends his days thinking of ways, and encouraging our lawmakers, to make America better.
“And you may not know just how much Bob Dole means to me.
“So what do you say when you introduce the man who for 35 years has been your precious husband, your best friend, and your own personal Rock of Gibraltar?
“You say, ‘I love you, I admire you, and I thank God every day for bringing you into my life.’
“Ladies and gentlemen, my husband, Bob Dole.”