When Senator Bob Dole walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death last Sunday, some super-red-pilled Conservative media site (I forget which one) posted some snarky RINO smack about him.
Saying our final farewell to a great American patriot is a time to set aside snarkiness. In the presence of Death, that Great Equalizer, I was struck by the Great Peacefulness of America. In his death as in his life, Senator Dole brought Americans together from both sides of the aisle to meet peacefully and respectfully, as people, not merely political parties. Together they grieved, prayed, sang and honored the courageous soldier and public servant that was Senator Bob Dole.
Just as in life, Bob Dole had a few surprises, and a few laughs, up his sleeve for his funeral. In fact, he had the last laugh at the very end of his funeral. Read on!
I'm especially sentimental about Bob and Elizabeth Dole because I was Sweet Sixteen in 1996 when, on his third try, Bob clinched the Republican nomination for President. I remember how well he worked the crowd at the Republican Convention in San Diego with his trademark left-handed handshake, a mute reminder of his patriotism, service and sacrifice during World War II.
I've admired Bob Dole all my life. At every event of national importance, he was there, wheelchair or no wheelchair. He endorsed President Trump in 2016 and, of course, attended the convention. On Inauguration Day, he was there. Who can forget a newly inaugurated Donald Trump acknowledging Bob with delight and taking a swift left turn before entering the Capitol to shake hands. A year later, he honored Senator Dole with the Congressional Gold Medal.
And who can ever forget that most poignant moment when Senator Dole insisted on being lifted from his wheelchair and spontaneously saluted the coffin of his brother-in-arms, President Bush?
"Senator Dole will be next to lie in state," I told Michael and yesterday his coffin was solemnly carried into the Capitol. Elizabeth wept on his coffin just as I wept watching his services on YouTube.
In Psalm 31, King David wrote, "My times are in your hands" and that is certainly true of Bob Dole. In April of 1945, all the numbers and statistics were against him. For ten hours, he lay completely paralyzed, bleeding into the soil of Italy. On his forehead the letter "M" had been written in his own blood by his brothers-in-arms who had given him the maximum dose of morphine, to warn other soldiers against giving him a second fatal dose.
Later in hospital Bob developed a penicillin resistant 109° F fever and experimental streptomycin saved his life. After seven surgeries by Dr. Hampar Kelikian (pictured with Bob below), Bob fought both disability and despondency and triumphed.
Yes, all the numbers were against Bob Dole but it wasn't his time to go. God had a plan for his life. A 98-year long plan! A plan that included being a father to his daughter, Robin, and husband of over forty-five years to Elizabeth. Oh yes, and serving his grateful country as well.
Bob won his first political race for the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950. From there, it was a natural step to represent Kansas in the United States House of Representatives beginning in 1960.
In 1968, he won a seat in the United States Senate, a position he held until resigning in 1996 to focus on his Presidential Campaign.
While I'm not a fan of overly-cheerful, tearless funerals, every funeral needs a jolly good laugh to give the mourners a chance to dry their tears. Take for example my Great-Grandmother's funeral. She had selected dangling earrings to wear in her coffin. Think about it. She always was a funny lady. (The funeral director glued the dangles to her face so they looked natural as she lay in her coffin.)
It was Joe Biden, reading a truly beautiful eulogy to Bob, who got the best laugh during the funeral. He related how Bob had voted against the entire Republican Party by voting to continue federal funding for Amtrak. When asked why he voted for the funding, Bob responded, "It's the best way to get Joe Biden the hell out of [DC] at night." There was a roar of laughter in the National Cathedral.
And it wasn't the last laugh.
Later, Robin told the congregation through her laughter and tears of a Farewell Letter her father had secretly written years ago. Robin had just learned of the existence of the letter this week. Honoring her father's love of brevity, Robin only read an excerpt:
Another roar of laughter in the Cathedral. And that's the magic and power of laughter, Patriots. For the past year, we've all been angrily at each other's throats about voter fraud. But in their laughter today, the Democrats acknowledged it's all true and, according to Bob's letter, nothing new!
Let that be a lesson to us all: laughter has much more power than anger.
And then there was that fall off a stage while campaigning in 1996 that the late night hosts just wouldn't let him forget!
Even in his funeral, Bob Dole had the last laugh but you'll only catch it if you watch the NBC livestream because CBS and USA Today cut their livestreams the instant it happened.
What was the last laugh? Lee Greenwood (in person!) singing God Bless the U.S.A. (Proud to Be an American) as Mrs. Dole, on the arm of General Milley, and the congregation slowly filed out of the National Cathedral. That had to chap the asses of the Democrats, so firmly has Lee's song become synonymous with President Trump and the MAGA movement.
Oh, yes. I'm sure Bob was looking down and laughing as they tried not to squirm! Thanks to Elizabeth asking Lee to sing, Senator Dole had the last laugh after all.
Rest in Peace, Senator Dole. I'll miss seeing you at every convention and inauguration. Thank you for your service. I close this article with a poem read at your funeral. In the words of the poem, you "spent your dash" very well and all of us, especially the disabled and veterans, are the better for it.
Senator Dole will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
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