With the death Sunday of former Republican Sen. Bob Dole, Kansas lost a political titan that put and kept the Sunflower State on the national radar. Furthermore, the nation (and perhaps the world) lost a politician who held to his core values but was willing to cross party lines work with Democrats on social issues.
Regardless of which side of the aisle one sits on, that shows integrity, something sadly lacking in today’s divisive and down-right nasty political environment.
Much has been said about his hardscrabble upbringing in Russell, his grievous wounds suffered in Italy during World War II and heroic efforts to forge on despite (or in spite) of what had endured.
He was part of the “Greatest Generation” that defeated the Nazis. It could be said he was part of the greatest generation of elder statesman who also battled growing partisan bickering and held it in check for the greater good.
Our current crop of leaders responded to Dole’s passing, praising his legacy and honoring him for his statesmanship.
“As one of the heroes from our greatest generation, you would be hard pressed to find someone with a bigger heart and more resilient than Senator Dole,” said Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. “He was an American hero, a statesman of the highest order, and one of the greatest legislators of all time.
“While he had incredible negotiating skills and was tough as nails, it was his huge heart and ability to work across the aisle that constantly led the way and delivered results for all Americans. For him, it was always more than politics, it was about being a positive influence for our nation and the world,” Marshall said.
“I will forever be humbled and honored to follow in his footsteps here in Congress,” Marshall said.
“America has lost a statesman, a noble war hero, and a service-minded Kansan who never forgot where he came from,” said First District Congressman Tracey Mann, R-Kan.
We are in desperate need for these words from Marshall and Mann, and lawmakers of all political stripes, to ring true. This must be a gut check for our elected leaders, a crucial time to realize the value and necessity for them to set aside the current rancor and put the nation above politics.
“The first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land,” Dole said in his speech to the Republican National Convention in August 1996. “And under the immense sky where I was born and raised, a man is very small, and if he thinks otherwise, he is wrong.”
Dole did his utmost to live and serve as large as possible.
Will we see the likes of a Bob Dole in the future? The jury remains out on that.
All of those who serve us now have the capacity to attain that greatness. They just need the will and integrity to blaze that path.