Bush, Dole last of gi­ants who car­ried Amer­ica on their shoul­ders

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint - Dou­glas MacKin­non Opin­ion con­trib­u­tor

I love Bob Dole. I had the honor to serve as his di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for a few years af­ter he left the Se­nate. Dur­ing that time, I came to re­al­ize that in my life, I had never met a hu­man be­ing with so much real em­pa­thy or some­one who so deeply felt the pain of those he cared for, or even strangers he had never met.

I have never been more proud of him than when, with the help of his aide and tears in his eyes, 95 year-old Bob Dole strug­gled to his feet Tues­day to stand on the floor of the Capi­tol Ro­tunda so he could salute for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H. W. Bush one last time.

One in­cred­i­bly hum­ble hero pay­ing trib­ute to an­other.

As I watched Bob Dole fight to re­main stand­ing long enough to of­fer his salute to his friend the 41st pres­i­dent, I thought quite a bit about them both, as well as the likes of Jimmy Carter, Ge­orge McGovern and Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han. As I did, I real­ized that we will never see their kind again.

Bob Dole was one of Great­est Gen­er­a­tion’s very best

Be­cause of the hard times of his child­hood cou­pled with the suf­fer­ing and lessons of war, Bob Dole has never for­got­ten where he came from, what he over­came, or the ex­am­ples of per­se­ver­ance and sac­ri­fice set by his par­ents.

It is for those rea­sons and more that he has of­ten worn his emo­tions on his sleeve while never be­ing ashamed to shed a tear.

Dur­ing the times we have seen each other or talked since I moved from Wash­ing­ton, I al­ways closed the con­ver­sa­tion by telling him I love him and how proud I am of what he truly rep­re­sents.

That be­ing one of the very best of the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion. We just won’t see their kind again. They were gi­ants from a time gone by.

That I was bear­ing wit­ness to the great and fi­nal shad­ows cast by that best gen­er­a­tion as they wane be­fore my very eyes. Shad­ows thrown from steel that will never en­ve­lope, pro­tect, or lead us again.

Ge­orge H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Jimmy Carter, Ge­orge McGovern and Daniel Pa­trick Moyni­han were and are the very per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of honor, courage, class, dig­nity, hu­mil­ity and ser­vice to oth­ers.

Pol­i­tics aside, they were and are ex­cep­tional hu­man be­ings who, for the fleet­ing decades they walked among us, lifted a na­tion.

They be­lieved in causes greater than them­selves

They did so be­cause they all be­lieved in causes greater than them­selves. They did so by lead­ing by ex­am­ple, em­brac­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, and walk­ing the walk. They rel­ished de­bate, were open to com­pro­mise, were not afraid to lead, and ea­ger to share or give credit. All served their na­tion in the mil­i­tary — Bush, Dole and McGovern in com­bat. All knew per­sonal pain and loss. Each felt a call­ing. Each had a pur­pose. Each made a real and last­ing dif­fer­ence. All but two are now gone. Sir Isaac New­ton once said: “If I have seen fur­ther, it is by stand­ing upon the shoul­ders of gi­ants.”

As I watched Bob Dole’s trem­bling hand salute Ge­orge H.W. Bush, I knew I was see­ing one of the last gi­ants.

When all have fallen, we will have no shoul­ders left to stand upon.

Pity us all. Dou­glas MacKin­non is a for­mer White House and Pen­tagon of­fi­cial.

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