In a summer that saw the statues of such American luminaries as Thomas Jefferson and Ulysses S. Grant come crashing to the ground, a new statue, and 4-acre memorial, was unveiled in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17 to honor Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 34th president will now join six other commanders in chief with a monument in the nation’s capital.
Born in 1890, one year before Hitler, Eisenhower became the most popular and respected man in the world by 1945 after leading the Allies to victory over Nazi Germany. As general of the Army, Eisenhower was known for his calm disposition and patient problem-solving approach.
He translated these skills to the White House in 1952, where his “middle way” approach to politics saw him get elected and then re-elected by huge margins. His time in office is seen now as a respite after three tumultuous decades that produced the Great War, the Great Depression and World War II and before the cataclysmic social changes wrought by the ‘60s. Eisenhower coolly and calmly led America through the early days of the Cold War without falsely hyping the Soviet threat the way his successors did so effectively.
Eisenhower described himself as a “dynamic” or “progressive” conservative, but it was his lack of ideological grandstanding, and his modest, pragmatic style, that is painfully missing from GOP leadership today. Ike believed that internal divisions were a national security threat, and far from seeing divisiveness as a tool to gain power, he believed that such disunity, the kind that is tearing America apart today, “would be a welcome sight for an alert enemy.”
Ike’s political achievements were many. He ended the Korean War; refused to send troops to Vietnam to help France’s colonial project; established NASA and the interstate highway system; integrated the military; desegregated the federal government; signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960; and sent the 101st Airborne Division — the same forces he sent to parachute out of planes in northern France — to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce Brown v. Board of Education and protect Black students from angry white mobs.
Ike’s duty-bound approach to politics and his ability to transcend ideological warfare mark him as one of America’s greatest presidents.
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)