Bob Dole-George H.W. Bush Salute: Former Senator Gives Emotional Farewell To Fellow WWII Veteran

With obvious emotion and the help of an aide, former U.S. Senator Bob Dole rose from his wheelchair Tuesday to stand and salute George H.W. Bush as the 41st President of the United States lies in state at the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

The gesture was marked by decades of friendship between the two politicians, both of whom served in World War II. Dole was a member of the U.S. Army while Bush was a U.S. Navy pilot.

The two men also went head to head during the 1988 presidential campaign, dueling it out for the Republican nomination that Bush won on his way to the White House. They were political giants inside the Republican party during that time and, after Bush's successful campaign, came together to work on several bills, including the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Bush's son Jeb Bush both reacted to Dole's salute, saying it was "incredible."

Just incredible. Thank you Senator Dole.

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 4, 2018

The 41st President's spokesman Jim McGrath also commented via Twitter, saying the moment was: "A last, powerful gesture of respect from one member of the Greatest Generation."

A last, powerful gesture of respect from one member of the Greatest Generation, @SenatorDole, to another. #Remembering41 #Bush41

— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) December 4, 2018

On Saturday, Dole spoke to CNN about Bush, telling the television network's Anna Barera, "I believe there are certain qualities that veterans have and when Bush was president, I think about three-fourths of Congress were veterans and we would stick together and work together across the aisle. And President Bush was a bipartisan president. So we got quite a lot done."

Dole, now 95, and Bush came together at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in December 2016 to mark the 75th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, with the two political figures trading stories about their time fighting for the United States — Dole in Europe and Bush in the Pacific — and how the war shaped their lives and the future of America.

Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush
US Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole and his wife Elizabeth (C) pose for photographers with members of former US President George Bush's family in the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine. J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images

Dole's wife, Elizabeth, ran against the 41st President's son, George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, eventually dropping out of the race and giving her endorsement to Bush.

Bush went on to win the presidency in 2000, serving eight years in the White House.

George H.W. Bush will also be honored by the Dole Institute of Politics in Manhattan, Kansas. The Institute announced on Saturday that an exhibit featuring the relationship between Bush and Dole will be open until further notice.

Guests who attend the exhibit will be able to sign a memorial book to express their condolences to the Bush family, who will be presented the book at a later date.

"Our nation has lost a cherished servant leader who has truly been the man for all seasons. President Bush answered the call to serve whenever our nation needed him – and we needed him often and in so many important capacities..." Bob and Elizabeth Dole said in a statement released by the Institute. "He brought wisdom, a keen sense of mission and diplomacy, incomparable patriotism, along with compassion and humanity, to each and every assignment he accepted on behalf of the American people."

Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush
Former Senator Bob Dole (L) and former President George H.W. Bush watch from the audience on night two of the Republican National Convention August 31, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Shaun Heasley/Getty Images