Congressional Gold Medal

“For many years I occupied a suite of offices in the Capitol, just down the hall. S 230 is an impressive setting anyway you look at it, but it’s the view from S 230 that sets it apart: sweeping down Capitol Hill, past General Grant on his bronze horse, to George Washington’s obelisk and the marble shrine to Abraham Lincoln.

“…The view from S 230 extends, still further, to the hills of Arlington. The countless heroes who rest there, in soil hallowed by their service, practiced many faiths. Spoke in many tongues. But this much they had in common: Patriots before partisans, they put country before self. They gave everything for generations they would never see, to uphold the freedoms that make life itself worth living.

“It’s a long way from S 230 to the slopes of Arlington, but nowhere near as long as the view they took of their obligations to posterity and to the defense of values that shine as bright as the gold in any medal. So I share with you a lesson learned over sixty years: leadership begins with the long view.”

– Elizabeth Dole, delivering remarks for Bob Dole at his Congressional Gold Medal ceremony, Jan. 17, 2018

On Jan. 17, 2018, a bipartisan group of legislators came together in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol for what felt like a rare moment of unity. Their objective: to confer one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, the Congressional Gold Medal, upon Bob Dole. The award is the “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions” that Congress can bestow.

The lawmakers shared lessons learned from Dole’s lifetime of leadership. Speakers reflected on his humble upbringing in Russell, to the hills of the battlefield in World War II-era Italy, to his recovery from war wounds and his long and storied political career. The recurring themes: his humility, toughness, willingness to compromise and of course, his ever-present sense of humor.

The remarks were capped by appearances from both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The president heralded Dole’s lasting commitment to veterans and his tireless efforts to build a World War II memorial on the Washington Mall to honor his fellow soldiers.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane called it a “rare appearance” of “’adult leadership’” in the Capitol that day, adding, “it served as a stark contrast to today’s partisan toxicity, the whiff of another shutdown in the air.”

It was a fitting tribute to Dole, who spent his career earning the respect and friendship of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. As Rep. Steny Hoyer said in his remarks:

“How appropriate it is to give a gold medal to someone who is the gold standard.”