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Bob Dole Honored on 80th Birthday

July 23, 2003

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ For his 80th birthday Tuesday, Bob Dole got a U.S. senator and Medal of Honor recipient to sing to him _ and received a political institute bearing his name.

The dedication of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, though, focused more on Dole’s fellow World War II veterans, scores of whom were at the ceremony.

Dole called Medal of Honor recipient Jack Lucas to the stage from his front-row seat and introduced the veteran to former President Carter.

At the end of the ceremony, Lucas, 75, of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., led a crowd of about 6,000 in singing ``Happy Birthday″ to Dole.

Among dignitaries praising Dole, a former Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, was Carter, who said, ``My respect for Bob Dole as a leader of heroes in peace and wartime has never been shaken.″

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, representing the White House, called Dole ``one of the Greatest Generation’s highest achievers.″

Serving in World War II, Dole was gravely wounded in Italy, leaving his right arm all but unusable despite years of therapy. That forced him to switch his focus from medicine to law and politics.

To the veterans, Dole said, ``This is your day. This is the America of your making _ freer, fairer, more diverse and more truly democratic.″

Dole noted he spent more than 35 years as a congressman and senator, but added, ``No honor that has come my way has ever surpassed the pride I felt wearing my country’s uniform.″

The celebration surrounding the institute’s dedication began Saturday and was capped by Dole’s birthday.

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