CAPE GIRARDEAU - A couple of men named George Bush were at the top of the list of significant national figures sought to speak at Generations in Valor, Wednesday's event at the Show Me Center honoring World II veterans. Both were occupied, but organizers were elated Monday night to announce that war hero and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole will speak.
"He is a decorated war veteran who protected freedom and democracy," said Tom Schulte, district office director for U.S. Sen. Kit Bond. "He is a perfect example of valor."
Dole will speak at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $25 each, with proceeds going to the Stars and Stripes Museum Association in Bloomfield, Mo. The cost is tax deductible. Tickets are $10 for veterans.
After six months of trying to schedule a speaker, the Generations in Valor organizers first learned a week ago that the 1996 Republican presidential candidate might be available but didn't get the financial logistics of getting him here worked out until Monday night. Dole is flying on a chartered jet instead of a commercial airline due to time constraints, Schulte said.
"He is so much in demand - his schedule is probably like it was when he was in the Senate," said Schulte.
Dole isn't being paid to speak at Generations in Valor. When he learned about the event from Bond and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, he felt he had to be part of it, Schulte said.
The daylong Generations in Valor is aimed at creating a link between the Americans who fought in World War II and those who are coming of age.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 only underscored the importance of this connection, says coordinator Dennis Rigdon.
"We need to get back to mentoring each other and get involved in our community," Rigdon said.
Some 1,300 high school students from 38 schools as far away as Fox of Arnold, Mo., will be bused in to see the exhibits and participate. More than 100 veterans and civic leaders are being brought in to talk to the students. The daytime portion of the event will begin at 9 a.m. The presentation of the colors is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and at two other times during the day. The exhibits will remain open until 4 p.m.
Admission is free during the day.
The exhibits will include a 60-foot Army trailer containing a virtual reality tank simulator, a MASH unit and National Guard exhibit. Ten different mentoring groups will have exhibits in the concourse area.
A military flyover is scheduled during the day. Ian Sutherland, an assistant prosecuting attorney for Cape Girardeau County and former Green Beret, will skydive near the Show Me Center.
"We're looking forward to people taking these ideas back to their community and see how they can make a difference," Rigdon said.
Dole was wounded twice in combat during World War II, one of the wounds permanently injuring an arm. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960 and became a senator in 1968. He served four terms and was elected Senate majority leader in 1984 and minority leader in 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1992. He was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 1976.
Videos made by former President George Bush, by Bond and Emerson will be aired during the evening. U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan was unable to make a video because of the problems caused by the anthrax threat at the Capitol, but her letter to the assemblage will be read.