Hollywood royalty paid tribute to the late Sen. Bob Dole on Friday as actor Tom Hanks took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington.
In his remarks, the “Saving Private Ryan” star reflected on what he called “great lessons” from Dole’s life, including speaking straight “even when it gets you in trouble — because it will — but at least everyone will know how you stand, and what you stand for.”
Hanks also recalled Dole’s near-fatal battlefield injuries — which cost him the full use of his right arm — and highlighted the work of his “great friend” to secure support and funds for the construction of the World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004.
“He did all but mix the concrete himself,” Hanks said of Dole, “which he may have done had he had the use of that right arm.”
Hanks traveled to the memorial after attending funeral services for Dole, who died Sunday at age 98, at Washington National Cathedral. He was joined at the memorial by Dole’s widow, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who laid the wreath in her late husband’s honor.
“This memorial was not built only for the generation it honors, any more than it was erected to crow of their victory,” Hanks said. “Bob Dole called this a memorial to peace so that all generations would remember that peace is achieved in shared labor, by shared sacrifice, by volunteering for the shared duty if peace is to be won and if we Americans are to continue our pursuit of a more perfect nation in an imperfect world.”
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke during the ceremony, calling Dole’s commitment to American democracy “unwavering.”
“He almost died in World War II and he had a life of serving to defend this democracy,” said Milley, who added that Dole suffered, endured and “showed us all what hope can do.”
Dole spent more than 35 years in Congress, 27 of them in the Senate. Prior to Friday morning’s funeral, Dole became the 33rd person to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. His casket was scheduled to be flown back to his home state of Kansas late Friday for services in his hometown of Russell and at the state Capitol in Topeka.