• Mary Harrison

Former congressmen Bob Dole receives Congressional Gold Medal

Bob Dole, a 94-year old former Kansas congressman, received the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. Senator Dole was awarded the medal for bi-partisan work during his 35-year congressional career, and dedicated service in the Army during World War II.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award that Congress can give to a civilian. According to Fox News, George Washington was the first recipient of the medal in 1776. Since then, the United States House of Representatives records that 164 Congressional Gold Medals have been awarded. Other recipients of this honor include former President Ronald Reagan, civil rights hero Rosa Parks, and Walt Disney, co-founder of the Walt Disney Company.

Bob Dole adds this award to an already prestigious trophy case. According to PBS News, the former congressman had previously been conferred the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2 Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star.

Dole served in the Army during World War II and was seriously injured while in Italy. In President Trump’s words, “He knows about grit.” While serving in Congress, then-senator Dole reached across the aisle to help "save Social Security" during the Reagan Administration. He also played an active role in passing Reagan’s tax reform legislation and "was a vital supporter of" 1990’s American’s with Disability Act (ADA), Fox News reports.

According to political science professor and Bob Dole aficionado Burdett Loomis, Dole’s legacy is one of bipartisanship. “I think as we get farther away from the Dole-era what becomes more and more evident is that he was a fierce partisan, a Republican leader. But here’s a guy who’s partisan but can walk across the aisle and make deals with other fierce partisans.”

The medal ceremony occurred at the Capitol building in Washington D.C., with President Trump and several current congressional leaders in attendance.