WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Former U.S. Senator from Kansas and Republican Presidential Nominee Bob Dole turned 96 on Monday.
Dole is considered one of Kansas’ most well-known politicians, even getting his namesake on the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Wichita. He served as Senator from 1969 to 1996, when he ran for president unsuccessfully against Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton.
In Kosovo, the Ambassador to the U.S. and the U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo held a groundbreaking ceremony for a statue built to honor Bob Dole.
In the capital, Pristina, outgoing prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and other Kosovo state dignitaries were also in attendance in respect of Dole, who joined the ceremony via video conference, Gazeta Express reports.
Dole and Kosovo’s connection goes back to his time as a Senator, when he took on the country as a political cause.
“It is a good moment to say happy birthday to our friend,” Haradinaj said. “I am only facilitating the ceremony, the initiative came from citizens and businesses to launch this project for erecting a statute honoring Senator Bob Dole.”
The Gazeta Express reported the prime minister said Dole’s visit to Kosovo during the 1990s represented a turning point for solving the Kosovo crisis.
“It was the first visit of US Senators and other senior US officials in Kosovo in 1990, which was a turning point on our cause,” Haradinaj said.
The U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett spoke on Dole’s commitment to the people of Kosovo at the ceremony.
“Bob Dole has been a leader in promoting the cause of freedom throughout the world,” Kosnett said. “It was no surprise that he became an indispensable supporter of Kosovo – standing alongside the people of this country in [their] own quest to build a country strong and free.”
“Our governments will not always agree on policy,” Kosnett said, “and it will take hard work to keep our positions aligned as Kosovo’s partnership with the United States matures, but we have seen that the enduring friendship between the people of America and Kosovo does not depend on any particular political party or individual leader.”
Last year, KSN’s Jeff Herndon sat down with Dole to look back at his life, noting that for boy from small-town Kansas, he paved a way for Kansas’ role in American politics.
Several politicians and members of the press reached out on social media to wish Dole a happy 96th birthday.