Bob Dole Loved Kansas and America
Wall Street Journal
December 5, 2021
‘Mike, you need to get out to Wilson County. There’s a fellow running for county commission out there who’s a good man and he needs your help.” I’d gone to see Bob Dole after I had been elected to Congress in 2010, and this was the first mission the former senator sent me on as a brand-new representative. I wasn’t sure I knew where Wilson County was, but I knew that Dole loved Kansas, loved politics and valued public service to America. Where those three passions intersected, he was sure to be leading. So I followed Col. Dole’s orders and headed for Wilson County.
When President-elect Trump nominated me to be Central Intelligence Agency director in December 2016, one of the first calls I received was from Bob and Elizabeth Dole : “Mike, we saw the news—America couldn’t have done better.” They sounded like grandparents to my wife, Susan, and me. They were proud a Kansan was chosen to lead, but mostly they wanted me to know that this was a big job and they were all in to help me—and America—succeed. We sensed their love for each other—an amazing American couple.
With the day drawing to a close, Bob said: “Let’s go see the soldiers.” Getting around wasn’t easy for him, but he refused help. Despite the sweltering heat, we walked to the Army recruiting booth, where he shook hands with every soldier and thanked them all for their service. Having been a decorated soldier, Senate majority leader and a nominee for vice president and president, he could have enjoyed a much-deserved retirement. He didn’t. He kept serving the public for years after leaving office in 1996.
Bob vowed not to rest until there was a proper memorial on the Washington Mall honoring the Americans who served in World War II. Construction began in September 2001, and it was dedicated in 2004. While I was in Congress, we adjusted my schedule so that I could spend as much time there with him as I could. Veterans from every war adored and admired him—and he them. They would grab his left hand and thank him for his service, and he’d tell them: “I’ve still got more service to give, and so do you.”
As Elizabeth told me on one of my first visits to the World War II Memorial with Bob, “He wants to make life better for one person every day.” America will miss his effort, kindness and toughness.
Read the full op-ed HERE.