As Memorial Day approaches, I think about a time long ago when three young wounded warriors came home from a war that saved our nation from fascism to rebuild our nation from the ravages of world war and depression.
Their names were Bob, Dan and Phil, and they became the senators, statesmen and leaders we know as Bob Dole, Daniel Inouye and Philip Hart. They embody the best of America.
Let's salute them all. Let's salute Daniel Inouye, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for indescribable valor, who has long been a legislator par excellence. Let's salute the late Philip Hart, a hero in combat later called by Rolling Stone magazine "The Saint of the Senate" whose wonderful wife, Jane Hart, was both an anti-war protester and candidate to become one of America's first female astronauts. Let's salute Robert J. Dole, whose achievements are measured in books, monuments and institutes of learning, including a special one that bears his name, which brilliantly passes his torch to young people.
When Bob, Dan and Phil came home from combat, they found themselves together in Michigan at a hospital that tended to their wounds then, and is the Hart-Dole-Inouye Center now, which became the foundation of a friendship that did so much for America in war and peace. We can only imagine those three young men talking about their dreams following the war. Historians write about and a grateful nation honors all that they have done since their days of youthful dreams.
I salute young men named Biden, Palin, McCain and Huntsman and all who wear the uniform today. As President Obama recently noted, they are all members of a great generation. As the White House Web page for Joining Forces, a great generation-spirit program supporting military families spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, notes: They are all heroes of a very special 1 percent.
On Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of thousands of biker vets will come to the capital for the Rolling Thunder rally. I encourage all to join them and support the groups that stand with our troops, military families, wounded warriors, jobless vets, homeless vets and those battling to conquer post-traumatic stress.
I would encourage everyone, as well, to visit the White House page of Joining Forces and join citizens, families, students, faith-based groups, business owners, performers and athletes who are joining forces.
The great generations of heroic troops and their loving and patriotic military families are timeless. We honor Kerry and McCain, who served in Vietnam, and Rangel, who served in Korea. We honor all who served, wherever they served. We honor one of the great patriots of our age, Pat Tillman, who gave up the comfort and wealth of the 1 percent, who live most well, to share the sacrifice and danger of the 1 percent who defend our freedom as Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and Ted Williams did when they joined Bob Dole, Phil Hart and Daniel Inouye fighting their war.
We can visit YouTube and watch the great Command Performance shows of World War II with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and hundreds of stars who mobilized the home front, which is why:
I think it's great that the first lady, Dr. Biden and Joining Forces are joined by Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Simpson, Ellen DeGeneres, Martha Stewart, NASCAR drivers such as Jeff Gordon and baseball stars such as Mark Teixeira, among a list too long to name here.
I often visit the World War II Memorial and see Bob Dole there, at the place he did so much to build. It is astonishing to watch him greet his brothers from a war long past and instantly become that young man again, smiling, beaming, forever young. It makes me so proud to live in a nation that produces men like Bob Dole, American vet.
This column was originally published at The Hill.