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Take Time to Listen

Dear Friend,

Looking back in history, you’d be hard-pressed to find a public servant as dedicated to their country as the late Senator Robert Joseph “Bob” Dole. From his service in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II to his nearly 30 years in the United States Senate, Senator Dole gave everything he had and more to make this country what it is today.

That’s why it fills my heart with such sorrow as we lay him to rest this week. Just five years ago, I had the distinct honor of participating in a ceremony remembering the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum with Senator Dole and the late President George H.W. Bush in attendance.

I flew the lead plane in a missing man formation, honoring those who served, sacrificed, and never got the chance to return home. After the ceremony, I had the privilege to listen as Senator Dole recounted his service in Italy during World War II. He was truly one of the most gracious and humble men I’ve ever met.

We’re now more than 80 years removed from the attack on Pearl Harbor as of this week and 76 years removed from the Empire of Japan’s unconditional surrender aboard the USS Missouri. With each passing year, month, and day, we’re losing more and more WWII veterans to time. Gone with them are their stories of service, sacrifice, and courage—stories that so many of us are so far removed from today.

When you get the chance to hear a veteran’s story—listen. You never know when you won’t have that chance anymore. That’s especially true for members of the Greatest Generation—those that fought the Empire of Japan and the Nazis during World War II, but it’s just as true for veterans of more recent conflicts—from Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can never fully comprehend the depth of their sacrifices or the steel of their courage in the face of unbelievable horrors, but by listening we can gain a small glimpse into what the true cost of our freedom is. I can’t think of a better way to honor the legacy of the late Senator Dole and his service to our great nation.


Sam Graves

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