Hon­or­ing a gen­eral and a pres­i­dent

Look­ing to­ward the me­mo­rial to Dwight Eisen­hower

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Bob Dole Bob Dole serves as the fi­nance chair for the Eisen­hower Na­tional Me­mo­rial. He is a for­mer Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader and was the 1996 Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent.

As June 6 — the 73rd an­niver­sary of D-Day — ap­proaches, our na­tion grate­fully re­mem­bers Gen. Dwight D. Eisen­hower, our 34th pres­i­dent and the heroic mil­i­tary leader who brought World War II to an end, start­ing with the D-Day In­va­sion in Nor­mandy, France on June 6, 1944.

This fall, some­thing very spe­cial will hap­pen in Washington, D.C., ground will be bro­ken at the site of the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial, com­menc­ing con­struc­tion of the me­mo­rial hon­or­ing Eisen­hower in his dual roles as pres­i­dent and gen­eral. This great Amer­i­can spent his en­tire life serv­ing our na­tion — first as a bril­liant, strate­gic mil­i­tary leader, ef­fec­tively lead­ing the al­lied forces to vic­tory dur­ing World War II. Later, as our na­tion’s vi­sion­ary 34th pres­i­dent, he led the post-war United States through the be­gin­ning of the Cold War to peace and pros­per­ity.

From his West Point grad­u­a­tion in 1915, to his re­tire­ment from the pres­i­dency in 1961, Eisen­hower served his coun­try and the me­mo­rial re­flects his lega­cies as both pres­i­dent of the United States and gen­eral of the U.S. Army. The me­mo­rial will re­flect Eisen­hower’s life in its en­tirety, from his youth in the heart­land of Kansas, to his mil­i­tary ser­vice around the world, and his guid­ing hand as pres­i­dent as Amer­ica emerged as a world power.

It’s ex­cit­ing to see so many as­pects of the me­mo­rial cur­rently well un­der­way. The Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion has sought pro­pos­als from con­struc­tion firms anx­ious to com­pete for the honor of build­ing the first pres­i­den­tial me­mo­rial of the 21st cen­tury.

Heroic stat­ues will fea­ture Eisen­hower ad­dress­ing mem­bers of the 101st Air­borne on the eve of D-Day, and also as pres­i­dent in the Oval Of­fice, flanked by both civil­ian and mil­i­tary aides, de­pict­ing the del­i­cate ten­sion and bal­ance nec­es­sary to keep the peace for eight years. Grounded in the val­ues of his up­bring­ing in Kansas, a life-size statue of young Ike will sit atop a wall in­scribed with his “Home­com­ing Speech” from 1945 where he pro­claimed, “The proud­est thing I can claim is that I am from Abi­lene.”

Unique to Eisen­hower was his global view of the world even be­fore he be­came pres­i­dent.

The me­mo­rial will fea­ture text taken from a speech he gave in Lon­don at the end of World War II and a bas re­lief with a de­pic­tion of the D-Day in­va­sion off the coast­line of France. As a back­ground for the me­mo­rial, a one-of-a-kind ta­pes­try will de­pict the peace­ful shores of Nor­mandy to­day, re­mind­ing us of Eisen­hower’s unique role as a warrior for peace.

Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial Com­mis­sion Chair­man Pat Roberts, Kansas’ se­nior sen­a­tor, and I are ex­tremely grat­i­fied by the gen­eros­ity with which donors to the me­mo­rial have stepped for­ward. From el­e­men­tary school stu­dents who have launched projects col­lect­ing coins for Ike, to gen­er­ous seven-fig­ure do­na­tions from cor­po­ra­tions, in­di­vid­u­als, and foun­da­tions, our donors have emerged from across the U.S. and abroad.

It is ex­pected that the Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial, lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the Smith­so­nian mu­se­ums, the Na­tional Mall and Capi­tol Hill, will at­tract sev­eral mil­lion U.S. and for­eign vis­i­tors each year. Para­mount among them will be the vet­er­ans who par­tic­i­pate in Honor Flights that bring them to Washington to visit the World War II and Korean War Memo­ri­als. The Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial will join Washington’s Honor Flight route.

When we gather to cel­e­brate the mo­men­tous ground­break­ing of the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial, there are many friends and fam­ily who won’t be with us on that long-awaited day.

In par­tic­u­lar, Sen. Dan Inouye, a Medal of Honor re­cip­i­ent who served with brav­ery and dis­tinc­tion un­der Ike’s com­mand in World War II and later in­tro­duced the leg­is­la­tion cre­at­ing his me­mo­rial; the troops he met at Green­ham Com­mon who fought bravely at Nor­mandy but didn’t make it home; and Am­bas­sador John S.D. Eisen­hower, Ike’s ac­com­plished son, him­self a West Point grad­u­ate, of whom his fa­ther was so very proud. They, and oth­ers, will be re­mem­bered on that spe­cial day and in the fu­ture, as con­struc­tion be­gins and the me­mo­rial takes shape, for they were a part of Ike, and they will be a part of his ev­er­last­ing trib­ute from a great na­tion.


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