Videos & Speeches
Apr 14 2011
Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, thank you. I am a firm believer in the view that an individual can make a difference. I am a firm believer that what happens in Washington, DC, is important in our Nation's history and what goes on in our country, but the reality is we change the world one person at a time. That individual is how we make life better.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday morning, I was on the National Mall near the World War II Memorial, and I was there for the dedication of a plaque honoring an individual that made a tremendous difference in the lives of many and made a tremendous difference in the life of our Nation. It was the moment in which a plaque was unveiled recognizing Senator Bob Dole for his contribution--in fact, his efforts and leadership--in seeing that the World War II Memorial was built. And clear from those who spoke and from what I know of the subject, the World War II Memorial would not be available for us as a nation today in the absence of that individual, Bob Dole , who led the efforts.
There are many thing in Bob Dole's career here in Washington, DC, as a Member of this body, of the U.S. Senate, that we can heap accolades upon him, but certainly one of the things that I know he is most proud of and certainly one of the things I and the American people are most grateful for is his efforts to recognize the 16 million Americans who served their country in World War II. There are only about 2.5 million Americans who served in World War II now living, and we lose hundreds of them every day.
Last week, I was at the World War II Memorial with Kansas World War II veterans welcoming an honor flight telling World War II veterans from my home State thank you for their service to our country. The World War II Memorial is a magnificent tribute to the sacrifice many have made before us.
I saw the World War II Memorial. It serves its purpose. I saw the World War II Memorial before it was ever dedicated and I put my walking shoes on and walked down to the World War II Memorial a few days before the official ceremony back in 2004, and I saw the place that says “Kansas,” and I thought about Kansans.
I thought of my own dad, who is a World War II veteran who served in northern Africa and up the boothill of Italy. And I tell this story because the World War II Memorial served its purpose. I walked away from the memorial, used my cell phone to call my dad back home in Plainville, KS. And, from a son’s point of view, fortunately, got the answering machine at my parents' home, I conveyed the message to my dad: Dad, I am at the World War II Memorial. I respect you, I thank you for your service, and I love you. It is something that sons don't often say to their parents, but it is something that we as Americans--something that the World War II Memorial brings out in us not just to our parents but to all World War II veterans: We respect you, we thank you for your service, and we love you.
We had the opportunity on Tuesday to pay tribute to a special World War II veteran, Bob Dole. One of the things Bob Dole's service to his country certainly in the military, but here in the Senate, here as an American, was to take care of those who served with him, and not only in World War II but he has been the caring and compassionate guide for all of us as we try to make certain that no military service goes unrewarded and that no commitment that was made to those who serve our country is forgotten.
So I am here today to pay tribute really to all World War II veterans, to all our military men and women now serving, and to those veterans of other wars, but to especially pay tribute to Bob Dole, who recognized and continues to recognize throughout his life the value of service to country and the value of service to other veterans. That plaque is a special reminder that Bob Dole made it possible for all of us as Americans to pay tribute to that generation and is a loving reminder for those who served that we are a grateful nation. It is important that we never forget those who gave us the opportunities to live the lives we live today. And Bob Dole’s life, while there are many things on which we could congratulate and express our gratitude for, I hold him in highest esteem for his military service.
Sixty-six years ago today, April 14, 1945, young Bob Dole was wounded in northern Italy. He lay on the field in blood and mud for 9 hours. He was rescued. He was returned to home. The people of his hometown raised money. I still remember the photograph of a cigar box in the drugstore into which people back in those difficult times put their dollars and their quarters and their pennies to raise money for Bob Dole's rehabilitation. He was able to access the services in Battle Creek, MI, of a VA hospital.
Amazingly to me, three future Senators who served in World War II ended up in that hospital at the same time. Our own colleague Senator Inouye, our previous colleague Senator Hart, and our previous colleague Bob Dole were all at the hospital at the same time recovering from their wounds in service to their country.
So it is today that I recognize an aspect of Bob Dole's life--most important, his willingness to sacrifice his life and his service to his country as a member of the 10th Mountain Division; his courage and dedication to his ability to reteach himself, to relearn to write, to bathe, to eat, to become a productive member of our society, and to lead our country in so many ways. I was honored to be present on Tuesday, 2 days ago, in which a grateful nation said: We thank you for your efforts in recognizing other veterans, in the creation and development of the efforts to see that the World War II Memorial, so long in waiting, is now on the National Mall.
Tom Brokaw, the author of the book “The Greatest Generation,” was the master of ceremonies on Tuesday, and he concluded his remarks on Tuesday morning by telling the story of Bob Dole raising money for the World War II Memorial. There are no public funds, no Treasury funds in the building of that memorial. Senator Dole and others raised the dollars from private sources to build the memorial. He tells the story of Bob Dole going to California and meeting with a wealthy Hollywood mogul asking for money to build the World War II Memorial. According to Tom Brokaw, the mogul said, “I am not interested. I have other priorities.” Bob Dole's response to the mogul, to the noncontributor, was, “When I was 22, I had other priorities too. I went to war.” Bob Dole went to war and served his country every day thereafter.
Senator Dole in his remarks concluded by saying, “I am the most optimistic man in America today.” We ought to be optimistic because we have individuals such as Bob Dole who have served our country. Today we recognize that service, 66 years ago, April the 14, 1945, in northern Italy.