Middle school students throughout Andover shouldn’t soon forget the speakers they got to hear on Veterans Day last week.
Through a Skype call, former longtime Kansas Senator Bob Dole encouraged the students at Andover Middle School to appreciate the importance of Veterans Day, to work hard and to continue their education.
"You've got to take risks now and then in life if you're going to succeed," he said.
Dole has practiced those words. He was three times decorated for heroism as a soldier in World War II, receiving two Purple Hearts for his injuries, and the Bronze Star.
He spoke to the students about enlisting, training, where he was stationed, how he was injured, and about how much time he spent in the hospital.
Dole also told the students about his childhood in Russell. He liked to run and play pool, he said, and his first job was as a soda jerk. He spoke about his education at the University of Kansas and Washburn and said he enjoyed school, especially history.
One student asked Dole what was the most interesting place outside of Kansas he’d visited. Dole replied the most significant was an American cemetery outside Rome.
Dole stressed to the students how important it is to be loyal and to always keep your word.
He also encouraged students to thank those who lost their lives and experienced disability for our country’s freedom and liberty.
In his 1996 Presidential campaign, one of Dole’s platforms was insisting on fair and equitable funding for veterans programs. The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita is named in his honor.
Across town at Andover Central Middle School, Congressman Mike Pompeo shared his experiences from the U.S. Army.
He told of visiting an injured 22-year-old solider at Walter Reid Hospital in Washington who was in danger of having his leg amputated. Pompeo said the solider wanted two things from him: information on how his unit was doing, and his help on returning back to the front lines.
Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point and led a platoon of cavalrymen in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. One of Pompeo’s wishes is for the country to not only care for veterans’ physical injuries, but to help them make a smoother transition back into civilian life.
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He also relayed a message from a friend of his who is an Army Colonel on the front lines in Afghanistan. The Colonel wanted Pompeo to tell the students that the United State has the greatest fighting men and women in the field, how brave and selfless the soldiers are, and how much the soldiers in Afghanistan to be free.
Politicians in Washington may not agree on a lot, Pompeo said, but they are in total agreement that the commitments that have been made to soldiers will be honored.
Many other veterans spoke to the students through the day, some of whom attended both programs.