- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2003

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The institute named for Bob Dole will be about the study of politics, but the celebration will be more about the former U.S. senator’s fellow World War II veterans than the man himself.

That’s the way he wants it for the dedication of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics on the University of Kansas campus Tuesday, Mr. Dole’s 80th birthday.

“We are the disappearing generation,” Mr. Dole, Kansas Republican, said of World War II veterans in a telephone interview from his Washington office. “We are sort of passing the torch.”

As an Army officer, Mr. Dole was wounded while serving in Italy and required years of therapy. But his right arm remained unusable, forcing him to change plans from medicine to law. He also chairs the World War II Memorial Commission, which is building a monument in Washington. His wife, Elizabeth Dole, is a senator from her home state of North Carolina and former president of the American Red Cross.

The tribute to Mr. Dole started yesterday in the afternoon in a large, air-conditioned tent where veterans recounted the war. Speaking during the four days will be Medal of Honor recipients, Navajo Code Talkers, members of the Doolittle Raiders, Tuskeegee airmen and former prisoners of war.

Inside the institute, on a 400-square-foot wall, will be 960 8-by-10 photographs of Kansans who served in World War II. Mr. Dole said he hopes to obtain more photographs to display.

Mr. Dole’s Army uniform, the dog tags he wore when wounded in Italy and his Purple Heart medal will be displayed in front of a large stained-glass window of the American flag, flanked by two 10-foot metal beams from the ruins of New York’s World Trade Center.

On display in 18 showcases are scores of items from Mr. Dole’s years in his hometown of Russell, his war years and his political career — as a legislator, county attorney, representative, senator, Senate majority leader and the 1996 Republican presidential candidate.

Items include the cigar box used to collect donations at a Russell drugstore for the “Bob Dole Fund” after the war. Throughout the years, Mr. Dole kept that box on his desk as a reminder of those who helped him when he needed it.

Scores of dignitaries — including former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald R. Ford, and former Sen. George S. McGovern — are scheduled to be on hand along with friends and family of Mr. Dole. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will represent the White House.

Tomorrow former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani will receive the first Dole Prize for Leadership, which will be presented annually.

“It’s going to be a show of nonpartisanship, which I think is a good idea from time to time,” Mr. Dole said. “We are getting together as friends.”

Established in 1997, the institute has a goal to encourage student participation and citizen involvement in public service. Construction began in 2001 on the $11 million, 28,000-square-foot building, financed mainly from private donations.

“It’s not going to be about Bob Dole’s politics or about Republican politics. It’s about politics in the generic sense — why it’s important and why people should be involved,” Mr. Dole said.

A key component of the institute as a research center will be 4,100 boxes of Mr. Dole’s personal papers. Institute Director Richard Norton Smith called it the largest collection of congressional papers anywhere.

He said about 200 boxes have been cataloged and that a reading room has been set up for scholars.

Asked whether he knows what was in the boxes, Mr. Dole said, “I think there’s a $100 bill in one of them.”

Each year, the institute will sponsor the Dole Lecture on international politics and the annual Presidential Lecture Series, dealing with the presidency. Academic programs will be added.

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