Senator Bob Dole (second from left) is handed the Oxi Day Greatest Generation Award by Tom Korologos, as former archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Andy Manatos look on. [The Washington Oxi Day Foundation]
Unfortunately, we will again join current and former presidents, senators, members, cabinet officials and other prominent officials at the Washington National Cathedral to lay to rest another friend. This friend was a giant from America’s greatest era – Bob Dole. He was an important, behind-the-scenes philhellene, whose philotimo, or love of honor, was seen by all.
Dole’s philotimo first came to my attention over four decades ago while I was serving President Jimmy Carter as his assistant secretary of commerce. I asked a midlevel employee in my office why he had taken such a long lunch, and he responded, “Because I had to go to the Capitol to have lunch with my friend Senator Bob Dole.” It was unusual that a politician of Dole’s stature would spend time with those unable to improve their power or position. My staffer, it turned out, had recuperated for a while in a hospital bed next to Bob Dole after being wounded during World War II. And Dole’s philotimo wouldn’t let him forget it. During and following WWII, Dole had to recuperate for three years from severe injuries to his shoulder. As a result, for the rest of his life, he carried a pen in his right hand so that no one would irreparably damage his shoulder by trying to shake his hand.
Dr Hampar Kelikian performed seven major surgeries on Dole, enabling him to return to productive life and leading to the emergence of his philhellenism. Dole could not forget the immediate family losses Dr Kelikian experienced during the Armenian genocide.
Subsequently, he refused to go along with his Republican colleagues of that era who sided with strategically important Turkey, regardless of what they did to Cyprus, Greece or the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Although weighed down with his duties as the US Senate majority leader, he always took time to meet with our Hellenic leadership each time we brought them to Washington. He was there for us when we enabled our ecumenical patriarch to be only the second living person in US history to have a ceremony at the US Capitol Rotunda. Additionally, during Greece’s economic downturn, when the world media labeled the Greek people irresponsible, he helped us remind America and the world just how extraordinary the Greek people were in WWII and how much the world owes them. His celebrity at our Washington OXI Day Foundation’s first major event at the National WWII Memorial helped us in subsequent years to move detailed knowledge of Greece’s Oxi Day into the consciousness of US presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and leaders around the world.
In addition, Dole’s philhellenism moved him to join the board of our American Democracy Month Council, which includes many of America’s most successful Hellenes and other leaders. He and the council moved more than half the US Senate to advocate for democracy and educate millions of their social media followers about its essential value.
Dole will also always be remembered by his close friend Tom Korologos and others who considered him a friend for his sense of humor. Dole found humor in Turkey’s attempt to strike back at him by banning the importation of Dole pineapples, foolishly thinking the senator owned them. He would evoke laughter from close friends in the opposition party. He teased them by saying, “If you are a Republican when you are young you have no heart, but if you are a Democrat when you are older, you have no brains.” After President Bill Clinton defeated Dole for the presidency, we hosted a fundraiser to help his wife get elected to the US Senate. At this event, he said: “I want my wife Liddy in the US Senate because Hillary Clinton is there and that will make Bill and me both members of the Senate spouses’ association. I plan to challenge him for that group’s presidency and this time I will win!”
Even the longest-serving Democrat in the US Senate, who serves as president pro tempore and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Pat Leahy, lamented the passing of Bob Dole.
He recounted at breakfast the personal pride he felt when Dole selected him, a Democrat, to be one of only two senators to speak about him when he received the Congressional Gold Medal, a rare recognition received by George Washington, Winston Churchill and our Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios. Philhellene and philotimo-filled Bob Dole will be missed by all.
Andy Manatos, CEO of Manatos & Manatos, has worked with US government officials for over 55 years, as has his family for 85 years and three generations.