Former US senator decorated with Polish Order of Merit

Former US Senator Robert Dole received the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland on Friday for outstanding contributions to the political and economic changes in Poland.

The order was bestowed by Polish Ambassador to the US Piotr Wilczek at a ceremony held at Dole's office in Washington.

Born on July 22, 1923, Russell, Kansas, Mr Dole was a promising athlete during his high school and university days. Mr Dole's collegiate studies were interrupted by WWII, when he enlisted in the United States Army and fought near Castel d'Aiano in the Apennine mountains southwest of Bologna, Italy.

Mr Dole was decorated three times, receiving two Purple Hearts for his injuries, and the Bronze Star with "V" Device for valour for his attempt to assist a downed radioman.

It was in 1950 when Mr Dole ran for office for the first time and was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives, serving a two-year term. His political career led him to the leadership of the US Republican Party in the Senate in the years 1985-1987 and 1995-1996. In 1976 and 1996, he ran in the presidential elections. He was one of the first US senators who explicitly supported Poland's accession to NATO.

The Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland is granted to foreigners, but also to Polish nationals living abroad, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to Poland's cooperation with other countries and nations, as well as international cooperation.