On July 26th the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates is 25th anniversary. Those of us with disabilities owe Senator Bob Dole a tremendous amount of gratitude for his lifelong commitment in removing barriers and discriminatory acts related to disablement. His passion for disability rights and benefits stem in large part from his own experiences living with disabilities.
While fighting German forces in Italy during April, 1942, Lieutenant Dole, assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, received severe injuries from German machine gun fire. Several bullets pierced the young officer’s arm and chest, leaving his fellow Soldiers to question if he might even survive to the hostile. Lieutenant Dole’s iron will enabled him not only to survive the injury, but even secondary infections. This ordeal left his right arm severely impaired. During his recovery, he learned the invaluable lesson that a disability does not stop life, rather its just another aspect of it. From this belief, Senator Dole poured his own spirit and experiences into advocating for numerous disability causes, the Americans with Disabilities At, its revisions, and the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled Veterans have received the necessary protections to pursue the very freedoms their services and sacrifices should have entitled them too in the first place. No longer must a Veteran settle for selling pencils or posies, working in shelters making brooms, or other remedial jobs earlier generations of disabled Veterans faced when returning home. Today, the ADA protects a Veteran’s ability to pursue higher education, employment, and the American dream on our own terms.
For more information on Senator Bob Dole’s activities related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit the University of Kansas’ archive of his speeches, writings, and other publications by clicking here.