This is a copy of prepared remarks delivered by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius at Tuesday's dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics:
It was April 14, 1945. Somewhere in the Italian Alps, overlooking the Po Valley. The 85th Mountain Regiment, Third Battalion -- brave, young American men -- battled fierce Nazi reinforcements. And a young lieutenant, crawling from his foxhole under heavy enemy fire, was hit. Wounded, in the shoulder.
Wounded ... gravely.
Because we are Kansans, we know this story. We have heard about this day in 1945.
The day the world left its indelible mark on a brave, young Kansan -- Lt. Robert J. Dole.
Given the severity of his wounds, it would have been easy -- understandable, certainly -- for that young soldier to give up. To ... give in. To say to the world, "That's it. I've already offered you all that I can."
But because he is a proud son of Kansas -- where a unique strength and perseverance are bred in each of us -- Bob Dole refused to wear his wounds as a scar. Instead, he bore them as a challenge -- to himself and to others. Continued to dedicate his life to the service of his state and country.
And left his indelible mark on the world.
Just look at this place. The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics. Here, at the University of Kansas. A place where students will acquire knowledge, of course. But also a place where young people will absorb the values Bob Dole exemplifies: Courage. Persistence. Compassion. Service.
Now, he has said many times -- with characteristic Kansas humility -- that this institute really isn't about him.
Well, Senator Dole, as governor of Kansas let me be the one to say: This institute is all about you. In the sense that service to others has defined your remarkable American life.
Some of the parents in our audience today certainly know the popular children's book "The Giving Tree," by author Shel Silverstein. In it, a tree gives its fruit, its limbs, its trunk -- its very soul -- to satisfy the needs of a young boy. I am reminded of that story when I think of all that Bob Dole has meant to Kansas -- and this nation.
A soldier, who gave his very limbs to the cause of freedom and country.
A leader, who continues to give the fruit of his talents and labor to public service.
And a Kansan, who has given his heart and soul to the people of this state.
In the movie "Dead Poets Society," actor Robin Williams plays a teacher who seeks to inspire his young students to think for themselves. To think about their lives in the context of the larger world that surrounds them.
In one of many poignant scenes, Williams gathers his students around the school trophy case, filled with pictures and mementos from generations past.
In a hushed whisper, he says: "These students have gone on to leave their mark on the world. So, ask yourselves, 'What will your mark be?'"
Well, because of Bob Dole, this institute will be a place where young minds gather to seek answers to that very question ... for years and years to come.
May God bless Robert J. Dole ... the survivors who were among the 50,000 Kansans who fought in World War II ... other veterans like my father, Jack Gilligan, my father-in-law, Keith Sebelius, President Carter and Senator McGovern, who fought in World War II and returned to America for life-long careers in public service ... the work of this institute ... and the great state of Kansas.
Thank you and happy birthday, Bob Dole.