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Image: Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole

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From soldier to statesman: Bob Dole's life of public service

The Kansas Republican was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal for his World War II service and decades of work in the House and Senate.

 / Updated 25 PHOTOS
Image: Bob Dole

Robert Dole as a young man in an undated photo.

Former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was born in Kansas in 1923. Dole was one of the three children of Doran and Tina Dole. A boy scout and honor student with a passion for sports, he also had dreams of a medical degree and enrolled in pre-med courses.

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Dole enlisted in the U.S. Army after his second year at the University of Kansas as World War II began. He served in Italy as part of the 10th Mountain Division.

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Dole recuperates from injuries received while serving in Italy during World War II in 1945. He was critically wounded by shrapnel in April 1945 and spent more than three years recovering from his injuries, much of that time at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. The injury, which nearly ended Dole's life, left him with a disabled right arm.

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Dole kisses his daughter, Robin. While in the hospital recovering from his war wounds, Dole met his first wife, physical therapist Phyllis Holden. They had one child together, daughter Robin, and the two divorced in 1972 after nearly 24 years of marriage.

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Dole and Rick Harman arrive in Miami for the Republican National Convention on Aug. 7, 1968.

Dole first ran for office in 1950 and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives where he served two terms. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960 and then re-elected three times.

In 1968, he won the Kansas U.S. senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Frank Carlson.

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Dole speaks at a podium during a debate against Bill Roy in 1974. Dole was re-elected to the Senate four times, but only once did he face serious competition. In 1974, Roy rose in popularity in the fallout over the Watergate scandal, but Dole narrowly won the election - only by a few thousand votes.

Robert J. Dole Archive and Special Collections
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Image: George McGovern, Bob Dole

Senators George McGovern and Bob Dole present a food stamp reform plan before a Senate agriculture subcommittee in Washington on Oct. 8, 1975. Dole's commitment to combating hunger remains part of his legacy. He and McGovern were recognized with the World Food Prize in 2008 for an international school lunch program designed to reduce hunger and improve literacy.

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Elizabeth Hanford and Dole toast at their wedding in 1975.

Hanford, a Harvard graduate, served as Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Transportation under two administrations before becoming a senator for North Carolina in 2003.

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President Gerald Ford and Dole wave to the crowd on the final night of the Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, on Aug. 19, 1976. Dole's mother, Bina, shares the stage with them. Ford selected Dole to be his vice presidential running mate in the election that year. Though they lost the election, it whetted Dole's appetite and he later mounted his own campaign for president.

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Dole takes listener questions at a radio show in Concord, New Hampshire, on Feb. 11, 1980.

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President Ronald Reagan signs the Tax Reform Act as Dole watches over his shoulder at the White House on Oct. 22, 1986. Dole became the Senate majority leader in 1984 and helped draft a deficit reduction bill in 1985.

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Image: Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole

House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Dole discuss the Medicare program during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 2, 1995. Though Dole had a moderate voting record, he and Gingrich supported cutting social programs including Medicare. The position would be used against him by President Clinton during his second presidential bid in 1996.

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Senate staffers send off Dole as he leaves the Capitol building in Washington on June 11, 1996. Dole officially resigned, ending his 35-year career in the Senate, in order to devote his full attention to his second presidential campaign.

He won the Republican nomination but lost to incumbent Bill Clinton. Dole remains the only person to have been nominated for both the presidency and vice presidency but not elected to either.

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Dole and his wife Elizabeth look for people they recognize during a campaign stop at Dwight Eisenhower's boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas on Aug. 9, 1996. Dole announced his vice presidential running mate Jack Kemp, the following day in his hometown of Russell, Kansas.

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Dole answers questions during a meeting with former President George H. W. Bush at Dole's Bal Habour, Florida home on Oct. 5, 1996. At 73, Dole was the oldest first-time presidential nominee.

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Dole looks back over his shoulder as he waits to be introduced during a "GOP Unity" rally during Flag Day holiday celebrations on June 14, 1996 in Savannah, Georgia. Dole was finishing up a three-day campaign swing through the Midwest and the South.

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Dole and President Bill Clinton shake hands after their first debate in Hartford, Connecticut. Dole often held a pen in his disabled right hand to signify that he couldn't use it to shake hands.

During Dole's acceptance speech at the GOP convention, he said, "Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquility, faith, and confidence in action." Clinton responded, "We do not need to build a bridge to the past, we need to build a bridge to the future."

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Dole watches Britney Spears perform as part of a Pepsi commercial in 2001. After his retirement, Dole continued to work part-time for a D.C. law firm, wrote books and acted in television commercials for Viagra, Visa, Dunkin' Donuts and Pepsi-Cola. 

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Image: Elizabeth Dole Declares Victory In North Carolina Senate Race

Newly elected Senator Elizabeth Dole kisses her husband as she celebrates at campaign headquarters in Salisbury, North Carolina on Nov. 5, 2002. Elizabeth Dole defeated North Carolina Democratic candidate Erskine Bowles.

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Image: Bob Dole's Portrait Unveiled In US Capitol

Dole and his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, stand next to his official "Leadership Portrait" in the Old Senate Chamber in the Capitol in Washington on July 25, 2006. He first came to Congress as a representative in 1961 and was elected to the Senate in 1968. He retired from leadership in 1996 after accepting the GOP presidential nomination.

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Dole visits the new World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington on April 27, 2004. Dole was responsible for raising large amounts of money for the memorial.

In his 2005 autobiography "One Soldier's Story: A Memoir," Dole recounted his WWII experience and the long battle to recover from his injuries.

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Image: Bill Clinton Gives Inaugural Lecture At Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Former President Bill Clinton gives the inaugural Dole Lecture in Allen Fieldhouse as Dole listens on the University of Kansas campus on May 21, 2004 in Lawrence, Kansas. Dole invited his 1996 presidential opponent to kick off the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, which he established to bring bipartisanship back to politics. The opening was on his 80th birthday.

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Image: President Barack Obama chats with Dole

President Barack Obama chats with Dole after introducing the Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Kathleen Sebelius on March 2, 2009 in Washington.

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Image: Dole arrives for Donald Trump's  Presidential Inauguration at the Capitol

Dole arrives for Donald Trump's Presidential Inauguration at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2017.

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Image: President Donald Trump greets Dole as he is presented with the congressional Gold Medal

President Donald Trump greets Dole as he is presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by House Speaker Paul Ryan at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 17, 2018. With Dole are Vice President Mike Pence, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Kansas, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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