TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Supporters of late Kansas Senator Bob Dole are honoring his memory, showing an ‘outpouring’ of appreciation for the legacy the senator’s left behind.
Audrey Coleman, Director of the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, said the museum has received an influx of messages from people across the state, remembering the time they’ve shared.
“Some of whom may have grown up with Senator Dole from the Russell area, their same hometown, or have interacted with him at a campaign event or a public event, some time throughout his long career of service,” Coleman said.
Dole’s impact extends beyond the U.S. The former veteran has also received letters from people he connected with during his time in Italy, prior to suffering a severe injury in the waning days of World War 2.
Coleman said the letter the institute received comes from a small town just outside of Bologna, where Senator Dole often spent his time.
“He built a relationship with the folks there and went back to visit many times,” she said. “The community sent a remembrance letter and indicated just their immense love and support for the senator.”
Dole was critically injured in April 1945, after his platoon received orders to combat German forces in northern Italy.
After the first platoon marched into the line of fire, the commander ordered Dole’s platoon to deal with the machine gunners in the farmhouse.
While trying to get to it, shots were fired and exploding shrapnel hit Dole in his right shoulder. He was conscious but unable to feel anything below his chin.
Skye Conley, Visitor Services and Museum Outreach assistant at the Dole Institute, said that during Dole’s time of recovery, he would listen to a song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel,” emphasizing the need to “hold your head high” during tough times.
Conley said it’s the bonds that Dole created with others that inspired people to rally around him, gaining bipartisan support during his long political career, and also reminding others that ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’
“When Bob Dole was recovering from his injury in Italy during World War 2, this was a song that he played constantly. Immediately after his injury for quite some time, he was completely paralyzed. One of the many things that kept him going was ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ The message of being able to power through your adversity no matter what the circumstances are.”
Events are happening across Kansas in honor of former Senator Bob Dole, including a memorial at the state capitol on Saturday, following services in D.C.
For event details, click here.