Traditional Values

Bob Dole Gets Out of His Wheelchair to Salute Bush 41

The longtime Kansas lawmaker and fellow WWII veteran paid tribute on Tuesday to the former president in Washington

Image Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was helped out of his wheelchair on Tuesday in order to give an emotional final salute to the flag-draped casket of his friend and fellow World War II veteran, former President George H.W. Bush.

After arriving Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol Rotunda to pay his respects along with thousands of other Americans, the 95-year-old Dole — who can no longer walk — was assisted in getting to his feet by an aide in a moving effort to honor the late president, who is lying in state until Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.

With a steady gaze upon the casket adorned with the American flag, the longtime lawmaker from Kansas and the 1996 Republican presidential nominee gave a salute to the former president before he was assisted back into a seated position in his wheelchair.

Bush spokesperson Jim McGrath recounted the touching moment in a tweet as  “a last, powerful gesture of respect from one member of the Greatest Generation, @SenatorDole, to another.”

And scores of other people then retweeted it.

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While engaged in a firefight in Italy in April of 1945, Dole suffered severe injuries after he was hit by a German machine gun — once in his upper back and again in his right arm.

Infection and blood clots complicated his recovery from his injuries.

Because of this, he was not released from the hospital until 1948.

Due to his extensive injuries, Dole was left with restricted mobility in his right arm and numbness in his left.

That did not stop him from serving his country as a lawmaker. From 1961 to 1969, Dole served in the House of Representatives. From 1969 to 1996, he served as a senator from Kansas.

He then ran for president as the GOP nominee against incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996. He lost to Clinton, receiving just 159 of 538 Electoral College votes.

He received 41 percent of the popular vote.

In 1997, Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Even though Dole and George H.W. Bush were political rivals in the late 1980s, the two public servants shared a mutual respect and later became friends.

The appreciation and high regard shown on Tuesday by the two-time Purple Heart awardee for his fellow WWII veteran was pure and undeniable.

In addition to the two Purple Hearts that Dole received, he was also decorated with the Bronze Star with “V” Device for valor for his attempt to assist a downed radioman.

“Bob Dole has inspired me,” said former President George H.W. Bush.

Related: The Phone Call from Reagan to Bush That Changed the Arc of History

Bush’s funeral service will take place Wednesday at Washington’s National Cathedral.

Before burial, his body will be flown to Houston. Texas, for a remembrance service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

President H.W. Bush died on November 30.

He was 94 years old.

Check out the video of Dole’s salute below:

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