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Dole’s last journey back to Kansas, honors great American

Former Republican U.S. Senate majority leader, and presidential candidate Bob Dole was a rare kind of American soul, his love for his country was ever apparent and clear as he spent his life in service to the United States, through his personal sacrifices in World War II and his devotion to his home state of Kansas. Dole who was admired on both sides of the political aisle, had a wicked sense of humor, and a way of delivering a joke that both stung and amused the recipients at the same time, like his farewell letter where he wondered if after arriving in heaven, he would be voting for Democrats back here on earth. As reported by the AP:

A public viewing of his casket and a memorial service will be held Saturday, in Russell Kansas, the small town where he grew up during the Great Depression

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Bob Dole made a final journey back to the prairie state that shaped him for memorials in his western Kansas hometown and at the Statehouse to honor the military service that left him severely wounded and the distinguished political career that followed his recovery.

The casket of former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., is carried down the East steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, after lying in state. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Honors Saturday for the late former U.S. Senate majority leader and presidential candidate will begin with a public viewing of his casket and a memorial service at a Roman Catholic church in Russell, the small town some 240 miles (386 kilometers) west of Kansas City where he grew up during the Great Depression.  Dole died Sunday at the age of 98 after serving nearly 36 years in Congress and running as the GOP nominee for president in 1996.

FILE – Presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., speaks to supporter’s in LeMars, Iowa., Feb. 10, 1996. Bob Dole, who overcame disabling war wounds to become a sharp-tongued Senate leader from Kansas, a Republican presidential candidate and then a symbol and celebrant of his dwindling generation of World War II veterans, has died. He was 98. His wife, Elizabeth Dole, posted the announcement Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, on Twitter. (AP Photo/Dave Weaver, File)

Another memorial was to follow Saturday afternoon in the state capital of Topeka, where Dole briefly served in the Kansas House in the 1950s. The list of speakers was bipartisan, including Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas’ two Republican U.S. senators, Roger Marshall, and Jerry Moran.

The casket of former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., arrives in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, where he will lie in state, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Dole was honored Friday during a service at Washington National Cathedral as a senator who could practice bare-knuckle partisan politics without losing civility and as a patriot whose grit overcame serious wounds from combat in World War II in Italy in 1945. He was known for a caustic wit that he sometimes turned on himself.

Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole lays her head on casket of her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., as he lies in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

“God, what courage Bob Dole had,” President Joe Biden said during Friday’s service in Washington National Cathedral. The Democratic president served with Dole in the Senate for more than 20 years and had a 50-year friendship with him.

Former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, right, accompanied by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, watch as the flag-draped casket of her husband, former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, is carried from the Washington National Cathedral following a funeral service, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Another tribute followed at the World War II Memorial in Washington — a monument to Dole’s generation that he worked to get built. Among the speakers was actor Tom Hanks.

Dole will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but his casket was flown to Salina, Kansas, then transported 70 miles (113 kilometers) west to his boyhood hometown, which now has about 4,400 residents.

With the Lincoln Memorial in the background, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks speaks during a ceremony in honor of former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., as former Sen. Elizabeth Dole looks on at the National World War II Memorial, on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Oil production allowed Russell to boom when Dole was growing up, even during the Great Depression, with the first local well drilled in 1923, the year he was born. In accepting his 1996 presidential nomination, Dole recalled a town surrounded by wheat and oil wells where “no one grows up without an intimate knowledge of distance.”

The casket of former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, leaves the Washington National Cathedral following a service, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

“And the first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land,” he said.


Also contributing were Will Weissert and Colleen Long in Washington, and Charlie Riedel in Salina, Kan.

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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