On September 17th, 2020, the memorial dedicated to Dwight D. Eisenhower was dedicated in Washington, DC. Located within a short walking distance of the Capitol Building in DC, the memorial is designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is also the architect behind such well-known buildings as the Guggenheim Building in Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. The memorial sits on a 4-acre park and includes two large pillars, several statues, and quotes from Eisenhower. Not only does it depict scenes from his Presidency, but it also pays important attention to his childhood and the importance of Abilene, Kansas, as well as paying homage to his military service. Several artists contributed to the memorial, including Nicholas Waite Benson who was the inscription artist. Benson has also inscribed the WWII, Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials. The large stainless steel tapestry depicts the beaches of Normandy, which connect Eisenhower’s service and the peace he maintained during the President. The two large pillars on either side of the memorial are the height of the cliffs of Normandy that American soldiers had to climb that day.
Who was Eisenhower?
I consider Eisenhower to be an interesting sort of President. While I wouldn’t consider him as unknown as say Rutherford B. Hayes or a Chester Arthur, but I WOULD consider him to be unassuming. What exactly did he do? The site location of the memorial as a whole was chosen carefully to connect parts of DC politics that are connected to Eisenhower. It is surrounded by the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Air and Space, Voice of America, and the Federal Aviation Administration. President Eisenhower was the first president to direct federal aid to education, signed legislation to the department that preceded the Dept of Health and Human Services, lead the charge in creating the Air Force, creating the Air Force Academy, and helped create the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The list goes on and on of the small of significant parts of history that Eisenhower had an impact on.
A behind-the-scenes impact
The impact of Eisenhower rings loudly today as we think about the quiet steps that Eisenhower took to impact positive change, presiding over eight years of peace and prosperity in the United States. He sent troops down south to help enforce desegregation, pushed for the desegregation of Washington DC, and completed the desegregation of the military that had begun before his election. He also signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. And despite all the drama surrounding the design and creation of the memorial I love its simplicity and symbolism and hope that that shines through and inspires visitors to learn more about him.
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