By JAMES BELL
RUSSELL – As a testament to the wide range of lives he touched throughout his life, area residents and national leaders filled the St. Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Russell on Saturday morning to remember the Senator Bob Dole.
Attending the service was a truly cross-section of Americans, including a mix of local and national politicians, alongside locals who knew Dole – the politician and the man.
As the steady stream of people entered the church, many stopped near the coffin placed directly in front of the entrance. Some said goodbye to a friend for the last time. Some took the show and the story of it all. But all paid a last tribute to the man who has never forgotten where he came from.
Dole’s admiration for his hometown and western Kansas was fully visible as Dole was praised for Dole.
“As we gather here today, we come together to greet our state’s most favorite of our state’s favorite sons in the greatest of the greatest generation,” Governor Laura Kelly said, “and we stop to reflect with immense gratitude on Bob Dole’s lifetime destined for Kansas and the Kansans, our nation and the world. “
Senator Jerry Moran, while recounting his admiration for Dole, spoke about how growing up to Russell has shaped his life and career.
“Although a national leader, he would still be the son of the Kansas plains,” he said. “This is what Bob Dole said:” The first thing you learn in the prairie is the relative size of a man in relation to the configuration of the earth and under the immense sky where I was born and where I grew up, a man is very small. And if he thinks otherwise, he is wrong. ‘”
Former Senator Pat Roberts said life on the prairie has always had an influence on Dole.
“You can get an education on the farm or in a factory, in a science lab, on a pew, especially if you’re from Russell – and I would add Kansas, America – you can get an education simply. look at the life around you, ”said Roberts.
And Senator Roger Marshall said Dole shared with him, early in his political career as he faced a tough vote, that the answer could always be found when he returned home.
“Senator Dole looked at me and said, ‘Roger, go back to Kansas, the people of Kansas will tell you the answer to all your tough votes,” Marshall said.
Dole frequently cited the sensitivity of his hometown as a path to effective leadership and valued compromise, a trait often absent from today’s political landscape.
While speaking about Dole’s legacy and service, Moran noted that the desire to work together for the best well defended by Dole is often lacking today.
“There is something about small towns where we always get along and we get along well enough to solve our problems,” he said. “Less but unfortunately in the nation’s capital. We respect our neighbors, we see them in the grocery store, we see the football game on Friday night, and if we were fighting among ourselves all the time as sometimes national policy exists today. hui, our cities will be a thing of the past. “
Moran said Dole set the best example of servant leadership by keeping local ties and understanding people like Dole did.
“I hope those days are not over when the bond between elected officials and the people they represent is about what we have done to improve their lives,” Moran said.
Kelly said she hoped Dole’s example could be a guide for leaders today and tomorrow.
“In her latest letter to the American people released this week, Dole wrote: ‘Americans never achieved greatness when Republicans and Democrats simply managed to work together or tolerate each other,'” she said. declared. “We have overcome our greatest challenges only by focusing on our common values and experiences, these common bonds form much stronger bonds than political parties. “”