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Dole’s latest trip to Kansas pays tribute to service, political career

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TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – Bob Dole made one final trip back to Prairie State that shaped him for memorials in his hometown in western Kansas and at the Statehouse to honor military service who seriously injured him and brilliant political career that followed his recovery.

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

Another memorial was due to follow on Saturday afternoon in the state capital of Topeka, where Dole briefly served at Kansas House in the 1950s. The list of speakers was bipartisan, including Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and the two Senators. Kansas Republicans, Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran.

Dole was honored on Friday during a service at the Washington National Cathedral as a senator who could practice partisan politics with his bare hands without losing his civility; and as a patriot whose courage overcame serious wounds in combat during WWII in Italy in 1945. He was known for a caustic spirit that he sometimes turned on himself.

“My God, what courage Bob Dole had,” President Joe Biden said during Friday’s service at the 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.

Another tribute followed at the WWII Memorial in Washington – a monument to Dole’s generation that he worked to have built. Among the speakers was actor Tom Hanks.

Dole will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but his casket was airlifted to Salina, Kansas, then transported 113 kilometers west to his childhood hometown, which now has a population of around 4,400. .

Oil production allowed Russell to prosper as Dole was growing up, even during the Great Depression, with the first local well drilled in 1923, the year he was born. 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.”

“And the first thing you learn in the prairie is the relative height of a man compared to the configuration of the land,” he said.

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