Ike’s granddaughter seeks to start fresh
Questions ‘fast track’ for memorial
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.