The im­por­tance of memo­ri­al­iz­ing Ike

Me­mo­rial will honor ser­vice, vi­sion of a great Repub­li­can pres­i­dent

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Bob Dole

As you may have no­ticed — the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial has re­cently be­come one of my fa­vorite sub­jects. In fact, I am pas­sion­ate in my be­lief that memo­ri­al­iz­ing Ike should be im­por­tant to all Amer­i­cans.

Raised in Amer­ica’s heart­land, in the great state of Kansas, Dwight David Eisen­hower was one of the most sig­nif­i­cant fig­ures in our na­tion’s his­tory. In the heat of bat­tle, in the icy wa­ters of the Cold War, and in the tech­nol­ogy race to­ward the 21st cen­tury, Ike was a bold and vi­sion­ary leader who de­serves to be hon­ored by the na­tion he served with ded­i­ca­tion and dis­tinc­tion.

I had the honor of serv­ing un­der Ike dur­ing World War II, when I served in the 10th Moun­tain Divi­sion. Af­ter I was gravely wounded in Italy on April 14, 1945, I spent 39 months in a state­side hospi­tal.

Dur­ing that time, I met the late Sen. Danny Inouye, who was also wounded fight­ing in the war. Danny and I formed a close friend­ship, talk­ing for hours about the war, the vic­tory in Europe un­der Gen. Eisen­hower’s lead­er­ship, and our shared re­spect for this great Amer­i­can. Ike was our hero. And I be­lieve he was a hero to most of the six­teen-and-a-half mil­lion Amer­i­cans who served in World War II, as well as to count­less oth­ers across the na­tion and around the world.

Now, 70 years later, I want the coun­try I fought for to honor Ike in our na­tion’s cap­i­tal. I be­lieve it is past time that Ike be memo­ri­al­ized and that the Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial be funded and built. That’s why I have joined the ef­fort.

In 1999, two World War II vet­er­ans serv­ing in the Sen­ate, Danny Inouye and Ted Stevens, spear­headed the ef­fort to es­tab­lish the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial. Congress, in its wis­dom, voted to honor Ike with the very first pres­i­den­tial me­mo­rial of the 21st cen­tury.

The plan was that, like all memo­ri­als hon­or­ing our coun­try’s great pres­i­dents, the me­mo­rial would be funded in full by Congress.

The news that Congress had es­tab­lished a na­tional me­mo­rial hon­or­ing Ike was wel­comed with en­thu­si­asm by mil­lions of World War II vet­er­ans and peo­ple across Amer­ica and around the globe. They un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate the role that Ike played in sav­ing civ­i­liza­tion when it was threat­ened by tyranny. In so many ways, the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial, like Ike him­self, is chart­ing new ter­ri­tory.

Just imag­ine: the very first pres­i­den­tial me­mo­rial built in the 21st cen­tury will honor the heroic mil­i­tary leader and U.S. pres­i­dent who saw our na­tion through a bru­tal war and then led us to peace and pros­per­ity dur­ing the mid-20th cen­tury — and that man was the last Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to be born in the 19th cen­tury.

Af­ter Congress es­tab­lished the me­mo­rial, and with no ob­jec­tions be­ing heard, the me­mo­rial ef­fort moved for­ward: a com­mis­sion was em­pan­eled; an ap­pro­pri­ate site ad­ja­cent to the Na­tional Mall was iden­ti­fied; a de­signer and de­sign se­lected.

The Eisen­hower fam­ily had a seat on the com­mis­sion that was filled by Ike’s grand­son, David. David Eisen­hower served as a com­mis­sioner for the en­tire time, over a decade, dur­ing which all of the key de­ci­sions were made. One of those de­ci­sions was to cre­ate a pub­lic-pri­vate mech­a­nism to fund the me­mo­rial.

For the past sev­eral years I have proudly served on the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial’s Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee.

When Eisen­hower Com­mis­sion chair­man, Sen. Pat Roberts, re­cently asked me to serve as fi­nance chair for the Cam­paign for the Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial, I wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to help build Ike’s me­mo­rial be­fore the last of his troops are gone. I will be joined in this ef­fort by former Sec­re­tary of StateJames A. Baker III and former Sen. Chris Dodd, who will serve as vice chairs of the ef­fort.

This is an ex­cit­ing time for the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial and for the many prom­i­nent Amer­i­cans who have stepped for­ward and lent their names in sup­port of the me­mo­rial ef­fort. Both fed­eral re­view pan­els have ap­proved the de­sign and con­struc­tion is ready to get started. And a num­ber of prom­i­nent Amer­i­cans have joined in the ef­fort.

To date, three U. S. pres­i­dents, six former sec­re­taries of state; sev­eral former chair­men of the Joint Chiefs and chiefs of mil­i­tary ser­vices, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, diplo­mats, his­to­ri­ans and spokesper­sons for the Great­est Gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks have joined the me­mo­rial’s ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee.

We have banded to­gether in sup­port of the Na­tional Eisen­hower Me­mo­rial be­cause we be­lieve it is time to put aside the squab­bles and rhetoric of the past and con­cen­trate on com­plet­ing an ef­fort that has been un­der­way for 15 years — memo­ri­al­iz­ing a great Amer­i­can hero, Dwight Eisen­hower.

It is ironic that a hand­ful of Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress are try­ing to with­hold funds for an ef­fort that was, in fact, es­tab­lished by Congress. It’s time to start con­struc­tion on a me­mo­rial to a great Repub­li­can pres­i­dent.

We are hope­ful that Congress will ap­pro­pri­ate the nec­es­sary funds that will, at last, bring alive the vi­sion of the 1999 leg­is­la­tion es­tab­lish­ing the me­mo­rial.

Let’s all join forces build Ike’s me­mo­rial now. 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.


Ar­chi­tect’s model of a cen­tral sculp­ture group planned for the Eisen­hower Na­tional Me­mo­rial.

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