Skip top navigation Skip to content

Print   Email  Share

Message by EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon
Veterans Day 2019

Post from Chair Janet Dhillon - November 2019

World War II, the deadliest conflict in history, was about to end in Europe - only three weeks to go before the German surrender.

But the German defenders of a stone house near Castel d'Aiano, Italy, didn't know that as they raked the surrounding area with fierce machine gun fire. 

And the fact that it was late in the war didn't make any difference to Lieutenant Bob Dole of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division, whose objective was to take Hill 913 - and that included taking out that machine gun emplacement.  The young Kansan, charging the house, was hit several times in the arm and upper back.  He was barely dragged to safety.  When fellow soldiers saw the extent of his injuries, they gave him the largest dose of morphine they dared, and wrote an 'M' for 'morphine' on his forehead in his own blood, so that nobody else who found him would give him a second dose, which might have killed him. 

And that's where his battle really began.  Dole spent three years in and out of hospitals, enduring seven operations, paralysis, life-threatening infections and a body cast.  During his long, agonizing recovery, he made friends with fellow patient and future senator Daniel Inouye - Nazi fire destroyed Inouye's arm a week after shattering Dole's. 

"He was obviously one of the worst-wounded patients in the hospital," Inouye recalled. "Anyone who can go through a 12-hour day of almost constant pain ... it gave him unlimited drive, and perseverance, and patience."

After considerable physical therapy, Dole recovered, but his injuries left him with limited mobility in his right arm and numbness in his left arm.  He had to do everything with one hand for the rest of his life. 

Dole was decorated three times, receiving two Purple Hearts for his injuries, and the Bronze Star with "V" Device for valor for his attempt to assist a downed radioman.

The Kansan's long service to his country in the political sphere is well known - House of Representatives, Senate, vice-presidential running mate in 1976, and presi­dential nominee in 1996. 

And now, at age 96, he's not finished.  He spends a lot of time at the World War II Memorial here in Washington, which he was instrumental in creating.  He enjoys greeting fellow vets, swapping stories and encouragement. 

Needless to say, we all honor Bob Dole and millions of his fellow veterans year-round, but especially on Veterans Day. 

Bob Dole stands for a lot - courage, patriotism, dignity, perseverance and justice.  He also stood for bipartisan­ship and cooperation - perhaps that started when Repub­lican Dole was in the same hospital with Democrat Inouye, both with ruined arms for defending their country and the world from fascism. 

We at the EEOC aspire to all of those virtues every day - and put them to work as we continue our own mission.  Attacking employment discrimination doesn't present the same physical dangers as charging a Nazi machine gun nest, but it's our part of the never-ending campaign of perfecting American democracy and expanding justice in the world.