Bob Dole will not rest until he sees Dwight D. Eisenhower memorialized in Washington, D.C., so the 92-year-old former Senate majority leader and GOP presidential candidate is adding another bullet to his epic résumé.
On Thursday, Dole took over as finance chairman of the Campaign for the Eisenhower Memorial, overseeing private fundraising efforts for the project. Constructing architect Frank Gehry's is projected to cost $142 million. "Bob Dole has been tireless in his support of the Eisenhower National Memorial. His passionate belief that the memorial should be constructed before Ike’s troops are gone has struck a chord in the hearts of all Americans," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in a statement circulated by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
Roberts, who chairs the commission, faces long odds in trying to find more federal funds for the plan, which has not been provided any construction funds from Congress since fiscal 2012. The House has called for a "reset" on the design process, and critics also want to zero out funding for the EMC. A Senate appropriations bill would give the EMC $1 million to cover operating costs.
Dole could be instrumental in finding private funds.
In 1997, the Kansas Republican took over as national chairman of the fund-raising campaign for the National World War II Memorial. The campaign was in its infancy. But it began to build momentum in the summer of 1998, after the release of Steven Spielberg's film "Saving Private Ryan."
"Tom Brokaw further defined the greatest generation as ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And Tom Hanks began telling the American people that it was time to say thank you," recalled fellow WWII memorial fundraiser Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, during the 2004 dedication.
"At that point the memorial honoring the sacrifices made during the Second World War came to represent an entire generation of Americans who selflessly left their homes for battlefields, factories and farms, doing whatever it took to meet the needs of a nation at war," Smith said.
That memorial received more than $197 million in cash and pledges, including $16 million from Congress. By comparison, the Ike memorial project has already received more than $46 million to date.
"Ike’s memorial is a unique partnership in which private donations will supplement the federal funds traditionally appropriated for national presidential memorials," Dole stated. He asked for pledges for the former president, "for his legacy; for the Greatest Generation, let’s get Ike’s memorial built while we can still pay our and honor our leader."