Two of that “greatest generation’’ mentioned in another editorial today gave America a wonderful and poignant snapshot this week. Bob Dole bade farewell to George Bush.
Dole, frail and using a wheelchair at age 95, nonetheless stood and saluted Bush’s flag-covered coffin in the Capitol. It was clear that Dole was going to stand and salute no matter what it took to do so.
Those who know the Dole story understood why he saluted with his left hand. As with another fallen hero, John McCain, Dole could not raise his right arm.
McCain’s arms were injured when he was shot down over Hanoi and then tortured in the Vietnam war. Dole lost use of his right arm during World War II combat in Italy. Many Granite Staters who met Dole on the presidential campaign trail remember how he would stick a pen or pencil in his right fist so that people would know not to shake that hand.
Neither Bush nor Dole (nor McCain) spent much time dwelling on their military service. They fought, they survived, and they came home to pick up their lives, raise families, and participate in public service.
They sometimes fought over politics, but never about their country.
They were honorable men and tremendous role models for an America that could surely use them now.