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Dole delivers commencement address to GMC class of 2010

June 12, 2010 Georgia Military College holds graduation ceremony Dole delivers commencement address to GMC class of 2010 From staff reports The Union-Recorder MILLEDGEVILLE — More than 180 Georgia Military College students received their diplomas Friday after former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole delivered the 2010 commencement address.

Dole’s career in public service has spanned nearly 50 years. She has held distinguished positions in the administrations of Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including serving as Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labor. She was also president of the American Red Cross and a U.S. senator representing North Carolina. She is married to the former Senate Republican Leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, Bob Dole.

“She is an icon for service to country,” GMC President Peter Boylan said. “Freedom and service to one’s country are the responsibility of all of us, and no one exemplifies both more than [Dole] and her husband Bob.”

In the early 1960s, Elizabeth Hanford found herself working side-by-side with Tillie Kidd from Milledgeville in the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. Tillie’s father, Culver Kidd, was well into what would become a 46-year career as a public servant in the Georgia Legislature. Dole and Tillie became fast friends, with Tillie eventually naming her youngest daughter, Elizabeth, after her friend who would also be her godmother. More than three decades later, in 1996, Tillie Kidd Fowler was a U.S. Representative from Florida and Elizabeth Hanford Dole was the wife of the Republican nominee for president. Rep. Fowler became the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Congress but left Congress in 2000 to keep her campaign pledge from 1992 to serve just eight years. She passed away in 2005.

In her remarks to the Class of 2010, Elizabeth Dole talked of the integrity and values of both Fowler and W.J. “Bill” Usery, another friend of hers who had graduated from the Georgia Military College in 1941, and her husband of 35 years. Kathy Walker and state Rep. Rusty Kidd, the siblings of Rep. Tillie Fowler, attended the Friday commencement ceremony.

“Intelligence. Integrity. Love of family. Love of country. Keeping one’s word. Bringing people together. These are qualities that define the life and legacy of Tillie Kidd Fowler, Bill Usery and Bob Dole, and they are qualities I commend to you today,” Dole said. “Join me in a round of applause for all that the Kidd family has done for Milledgeville, for Georgia and for America.”

Dole also referenced a set of two letters written by Dwight Eisenhower exactly 66 years ago last Saturday on June 5, 1944 — the night before the D-Day invasion that would eventually lead to the victory in Europe. One was to be released if the invasion succeeded, the other if it failed. Dole quoted from the letter that was not released, which hangs on Bob Dole’s office wall.

“‘If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine and mine alone,’” she read. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is leadership,” she added, going on to praise the bravery, dedication and sacrifices of the women and men who protected our freedom in World War II and the years since.

Senator Dole’s third illustration of a person of strong values was her husband.

“When Bob Dole was about your age, he dreamed of being a surgeon. It was a dream that ended on a battlefield in Italy in World War II. He endured years of hospitalization and eight surgeries, and it eventually became apparent that he would never regain the use of his right arm,” she told the graduates. “Bob learned as a 21-year-old that sometimes in life things do not go as planned. A door that was once open will swing shut. Or perhaps a path you choose will turn out to be the wrong one.

The difference between success and failure is what you do after events do not go your way. Bob chose to persevere and move forward, to make the most of what he had. If he couldn’t perform surgery with only one good arm, he could use that good arm to reach out and shake the hands of voters.”