On another Dec. 7, the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 led to the United States entering World War II, upending countless lives before the nation beat first Germany and then Japan.

Young men across the country dropped what they were doing — leaving farms, schools and jobs to join the military to defend the United States of America.

One of those young men was Robert Dole of Kansas. He had enlisted in the Army Reserve and was called to active duty in 1943.

A lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division, he took the resiliency developed during a hardscrabble Depression childhood to the battlefield. Badly wounded in Italy just before the war in Europe ended, Dole was left on the battlefield for nine hours before medics could reach him. He went home in a body cast to endure more than three years of surgeries, treatment and hard-fought recuperation. He never regained full use of his right arm.

Despite the wounds that plagued him all his life, Dole became a member of Congress, a U.S. senator, vice presidential candidate and, eventually, his party’s choice for president in 1996.

Dole died Sunday at 98.

His life of public service is a lesson to all of us in this time in which too many leaders value party over country, sizzle over substance and refuse to make the necessary compromises to fight the challenges of this singular time.

Make no mistake, Bob Dole was a conservative Republican — he defended Nixon so vigorously he got the nickname as a “hatchet” man. Unlike many Republicans of his generation, Dole openly supported former President Donald Trump. Yet the senator from Russell, Kan., throughout his political life remained committed to the notion that governing the United States was more than seizing — and keeping — political power.

To him and others of that “Greatest Generation” forged in the Depression and World War II, governing meant the coming together of various perspectives to develop policy that would serve the country and its people, not just the politicians. Dole was an adult; he understood compromise was the way forward if the nation were to prosper and grow.

Elected to Congress in 1961, Dole became a U.S. senator eight years later, moving into leadership, serving as both minority and majority leader in the Senate — a position he left to run unsuccessfully for president in 1996.

As a leader of the Senate, Dole believed government needed to get things done; that it was the job of Congress to pass legislation, working with the president and the opposition party to do the work of the American people. Governing was not about winning the next election but about meeting the current challenge.

Whether in the majority or minority, Dole wanted to solve problems. Despite his conservatism, Dole supported civil rights legislation in the 1960s and helped expand food stamp coverage. He helped save Social Security and worked for passage of the Americans with Disability Act. A serious man with a record of accomplishment, Dole also had a wicked sense of humor.

For President Joe Biden, Dole was a Senate colleague and a member of the opposition but also a friend. It’s the sort of bipartisan friendship that seems rarer in today’s Washington, D.C. Biden had this to say about his friend’s passing — “Bob was a man to be admired by Americans. He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor. May God bless him, and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor and patriotism for all time.”

For all time, and right now, the Dole legacy is one this nation needs.

(8) comments

Khal Spencer

Thank you for the eulogy to Bob Dole. Its sad that both the D's and the R's nowadays would rather fight to the bitter end for partisan ideology than compromise. While I'm happy to revile the GOP for its obstructionist policies, it was only a few months ago that Democrats were holding President Biden's infrastructure bill hostage to an "our way or the highway" mentality.

If the center cannot hold, to borrow a line from a poem, the country cannot long survive.

Mike Johnson

You should state the entire legacy of this American hero. It is to use government to get things done FOR THE PEOPLE. Today's sorry excuse for government is used by the partisan, corrupt politicians who run it to line their pockets, reward their special interests, pander to their identity politics tribes, all to stay in power, not to serve the greater good of all the people. That is the glaring difference between say Ben Ray, Marty, the Leger woman, Mel, MLG, Egolf, Wirth, etc. and this hero. His kind of public service is extinct for the most part, and look what we have now. Very disheartening.

David Ford

"The Leger woman"? Really? Your retrumplican colors are showing yet again Dr. DINO.

It is interesting that you did not include one republican in your list even though you claim to be a conservative "Democrat" (allegedly). You may have thought you covered the bases with your catch-all "corrupt politicians" but in order to take that seriously it should have been doled (no pun intended) out a bit more equitably. So what meaningful, if any, legislation have Boebert, Greene, Gaetz, or Hawthorn introduced that have 1) made it even to a committee, 2) had any impact on real people or as you put it "FOR THE PEOPLE"? Their only contribution has been bills that only pander to their rabid and faux outraged base or because as serial narcissists (like their orange gawd) they need all that attention for doing nothing...(Seriously? - a medal for Rittenhouse? Paalease!)

Time to come out of the closet doc....

Mike Johnson

Indeed, Trump, Boebert, Gaetz, etc. are as bad or worse than any I named, but they do not represent me in NM, the others are, or rather claim they are, but of course they are not.

David Ford

Neither did Bob Dole and yet the story was more about him and a time when things did get done on a national level, so you were sort of off topic to once again rail against your favorite enemies to make some sort of point...same ole, same ole. Predictable and becoming boring and trite.

Mike Johnson

Mr. Ford, feel free to ignore me, I will you in the future.

Richard Reinders

If you think the list that Dr. Johnson gave are representing the people of New Mexico and not their self interest you have been living in a bubble. If these people were doing what they were elected for we would not be in last place. I spent a couple days in Scottsdale/Phoenix and it is vibrant and going places because there government are doing their job. Every restaurant and business I went in was fully staffed and friendly which is a stark difference from here.

Emily Koyama

The Fords, Cooks, and Klukkerts are as rabidly, blindly supportive of the worst left wing politicians as the right wing are of theirs.

As Khal said, it is the extremes of both sides that are dragging this country into the muck.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.