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Former Sen. Bob Dole honored as champion, patriot at Capitol memorial

General Mark Milley and former Sen. Elizabeth Dole follow behind a Joint Service Casket Team as they carry the coffin carrying the remains of former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., during the retiring procession following the funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Former Sen. Bob Dole was remembered Thursday as a war hero and statesman during a tribute at the U.S. Capitol before lying in state beneath the Rotunda.

The former Republican presidential candidate and longtime senator from Kansas was memorialized during the ceremony, which was attended by President Joe Biden, Dole's wife, Elizabeth Dole, their daughter, Robin Dole, and others.

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"My fellow Americans, America has lost one of our greatest patriots," Biden said. "We may follow his wisdom, I hope, and his timeless truth -- that the truth of the matter is, as divided as we are, the only way forward for democracy is unity, consensus. The only way."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Dole came from modest beginnings and overcame adversity to become one of the leading politicians in America.

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"Bob Dole was a champion of those whose lives were marred by struggle, who came not from citadels of privilege, but from humble origins like his own," Schumer said. "[Dole] never lost his roots as a principled, pragmatic Kansas Republican."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., honored Dole for his "great patriotism" and said she could hardly think of anyone more worthy of having a "flag draped over his coffin."

"Dole was widely respected for his legendary service on the battlefields of World War II, his inspiring resilience after recovering from grievous war wounds, his principled leadership in the hallowed halls of Congress -- House and Senate -- and his tireless advocacy as an elder statesman," she said.

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Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, who surpassed Dole as the longest serving Senate Republican leader, was the only Republican to speak at the ceremony.

"Bob was blessed with long life to watch his legacy take effect," McConnell said.

Dole died in his sleep on Sunday at age 98.

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Dole's casket was scheduled to remain in the Rotunda until 8 p.m. EST Thursday.

On Friday, a departure ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m., followed by a funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral at 11 a.m.

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Biden, Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts and former Sen. Tom Daschle are among those expected to speak at the funeral.

In a visit to Kansas City on Wednesday, Biden said that "our nation owes Bob Dole a debt of gratitude for the remarkable service and a life well lived."

"For those like me who had the honor of calling him a friend, Bob Dole was an American giant," he added. "A man of extraordinary courage, both physical and moral courage. A war hero who sacrificed beyond measure, who nearly gave his life for our country in World War II. Among the greatest of the Greatest Generation."

The motorcade carrying Dole's casket on Friday will stop at the World War II Memorial for a public tribute. Dole served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was seriously wounded in action in Italy in 1945. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Friday's events will conclude with a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, where Dole's casket will be sent to Salina Regional Airport in Kansas. Dole will lie in repose at the Kansas Statehouse on Saturday.

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