Washington, DC, April 29, 2019 – The World War II Foundation will present its Leadership Award to former U.S. Senator Bob Dole in ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the French Embassy, Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2019.
The award, a statue of an American eagle is presented annually to a deserving person of the WWII generation who still endeavors today to preserve the lessons and sacrifice of that time in our history.
Robert Dole, from Kansas, enlisted in the United States Army in 1942. Dole became a combat infantry officer in the famed 10th Mountain Division and was sent to the Po Valley in northern Italy in 1944. Dole was ordered to lead an assault against a German position there and was severely wounded. Paralyzed from the neck down and with metal shrapnel throughout his body, the medics who treated him did not think he would live. Dole was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his combat service in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.
After World War II, Bob Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969, then as a senator from 1969 to 1996, serving as Republican Leader of the Senate 1985 to 1996. He was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in 1996.
Following his time in the Senate, Dole took on a new mission: welcoming veterans in person to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Dole, despite physical challenges that would keep most men his age at home, greets most veteran Honor Flights upon their arrival to the memorial. He thanks all veterans for their service and especially engages with those who served in World War II. The reaction of the veterans who arrive at the World War II Memorial is often one of surprise, followed by the words “That’s Bob Dole!”
Dole told the Washington Post: “It’s just about the one public service left that I’m doing,” he says. “We don’t have many of the World War II vets left. It’s important to me.”
“I can’t think of a more deserving recipient than Senator Dole,” said Tim Gray, founder of the World War II Foundation. “I have visited the WWII Memorial myself a few times and I’m always just amazed to see Senator Dole there, talking with other veterans. It makes all the difference to them that someone who served his country so gallantly in battle and then later in public service is there to say thank you to them for their own military service.”
“Senator Dole represents the absolute best of what America stands for humility, public service, patriotism and a strong belief we should always protect our democracy and freedoms whatever the cost. We are honored to be presenting Senator Dole with this special award on May 7th,” Gray said.
The 2018 recipient was James “Pee Wee” Martin of the 101st Airborne Division, who fought on D-Day, during Operation Market Garden and in the Battle of the Bulge and still today speaks publicly to groups at the age of 98.
About the World War Foundation: The non-profit World War II Foundation honors the legacy of the veterans and survivors of one of history’s most important time periods by producing educational documentary films that air on television networks around the world. To date, the World War II Foundation has donated 22 films to American Public Television, as well as making them available for free to schools, libraries, and the military. The goal is to preserve these important stories for current and future generations. Among the foundation’s other initiatives is the building of an overseas monument recognizing American leadership on D-Day and the recent dedication of the World War II Foundation Global Education Center in Rhode Island.
WWII Foundation films rank in the top-5 of most requested programs nationally by PBS and air on more than 125 public television stations. The World War II Foundation has also received a National Programming Excellence Award from American Public Television.