Ike’s grand­daugh­ter seeks to start fresh

Ques­tions ‘fast track’ for me­mo­rial

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY CHRISTY ARMSTRONG

A grand­daugh­ter of Dwight D. Eisen­hower told a con­gres­sional sub­com­mit­tee Tues­day that the de­sign process for cre­at­ing a na­tional me­mo­rial to the World War II gen­eral and pres­i­dent should be­gin again from scratch.

Su­san Eisen­hower said the fam­ily would like to see a sim­pler de­sign that would have lower main­te­nance costs and give more fo­cus to Eisen­hower’s ac­com­plish­ments.

“Eisen­hower’s con­tri­bu­tion is not the fo­cus of the de­sign. The Eisen­hower our coun­try wants to cel­e­brate is not a dreamy boy,” Ms. Eisen­hower said, re­fer­ring to con­tro­versy over a statue of Eisen­hower as a boy that is a cen­tral el­e­ment of the me­mo­rial’s cur­rent pro­posed de­sign.

Sup­port­ers say the de­sign was meant to cap­ture the arc of Eisen­hower’s life, from hum­ble be­gin­nings in Abi­lene, Kan., to his ser­vice in the mil­i­tary and the pres­i­dency. Op­po­nents say the por­trayal de­tracts from hon­or­ing Eisen­hower’s adult achieve­ments.

The me­mo­rial’s de­signer, famed ar­chi­tect Frank Gehry, dis­agreed with Ms. Eisen­hower’s as­sess­ment in a state­ment he sent to sub­com­mit­tee mem­bers.

“The sculp­ture of the young man look­ing out on bas re­liefs of his fu­ture ac­com­plish­ments as Supreme Al­lied Com­man­der and as pres­i­dent was in­tended to res­onate with young schoolage chil­dren to in­spire them, to give them courage to pur­sue their dreams, and to re­mind them that this great man started out just like them,” Mr. Gehry said.

The House sub­com­mit­tee on na­tional parks, forests and public lands heard tes­ti­mony on the me­mo­rial’s de­sign and dura­bil­ity, the process through which the de­signer was cho­sen and bud­get con­cerns.

“This is per­haps a key mo­ment in the course of this process,” said Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Re­pub­li­can and the sub­com­mit­tee’s chair­man.

Re­tired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddell, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Dwight D. Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial Com­mis­sion, said start­ing the de­sign process again would take ex­tra time and money.

Ms. Eisen­hower said she did not know why the me­mo­rial seemed as if it had been “slated for the fast track.”

Gen. Reddell said he re­called dis­cus­sions with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Demo­crat and a mem­ber of the me­mo­rial com­mis­sion, in which Mr. Inouye said he had spent 30 years on the com­mis­sion that over­saw con­struc­tion of the Franklin D. Roo­sevelt me­mo­rial. Gen. Reddell said Mr. Inouye and an­other com­mis­sion mem­ber agreed that the time a me­mo­rial takes to build can cut down on the amount of time vet­er­ans have to en­joy me­mo­ri­als hon­or­ing those who fought in their wars.

“They looked at me like I was a spring chicken and told me to get on with it,” Gen. Reddell said.

Howard Segermark, chair­man emer­i­tus of the Na­tional Civic Art So­ci­ety, crit­i­cized the process through which the me­mo­rial com­mis­sion chose who would de­sign the me­mo­rial and said 44 en­tries in the de­sign com­pe­ti­tion was a sus­pi­ciously low num­ber.


Su­san Eisen­hower (left) and Anne Eisen­hower, grand­daugh­ters of Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower, lis­ten to tes­ti­mony on Capi­tol Hill on Tues­day dur­ing the House sub­com­mit­tee on na­tional parks, forests and public lands hear­ing on the pro­posed Dwight D. Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial.

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