Tribute to the Honorable Robert J. Dole
July 22, 1923 — December 5, 2021
In December 5, 2021, our longtime friend, the Honorable Robert J. Dole, 98, passed away in the early morning hours. His precious family, our nation, and our TAPS family will dearly miss him.
He was a warrior and the “greatest of the greatest generation,” always placing his beloved country above partisanship and politics.
In 1945, at the age of 21, while deployed to Italy during World War II, U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Dole was severely wounded by the enemy while trying to assist a fellow injured soldier – permanently losing mobility in his right arm and parts of his left arm. He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star for Valor.
After much perseverance and determination, Dole pushed forward from his injuries and joined the world of politics. He served for 36 years in Congress as a representative and then senator, and he was the Republican nominee for vice president in 1976 and president in 1996.
After leaving politics in 1996, his service didn’t stop.
He became the National Chairman of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., ensuring there would be a place where the greatest generation would be honored and remembered. That beautiful memorial came to fruition in 2004, and on any given day, until his last days, a person might find him at the memorial shaking hands with his fellow WWII veterans.
TAPS was also blessed to be a part of his service.
In 1999, a young TAPS survivor Megan Gibbs, introduced Senator Dole as our guest of honor at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar banquet, sharing in her own words what it meant to be a hero and how Senator Dole was America’s hero. She captured his heart, and he stood with TAPS for the remainder of his life, listening to our stories, honoring our heroes, and sharing our grief. He knew what service and sacrifice meant, and he became a part of our TAPS family.
A few months later, Senator Dole spoke as the keynote at our 2000 TAPS Honor Guard luncheon, and he joined our TAPS Honorary Board. Our friendship with Senator Dole led to the beautiful relationship with his lovely wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole, and TAPS’ amazing partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF).
It was always an honor when Senator Dole would wave to our TAPS families at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. He recognized our sacrifices, felt our grief, stood with us in honoring our heroes, and loved us all. We miss him dearly, and we will never forget him.