Liking Ike

The new Eisenhower Memorial is now open for visitors. It is wedged rather creatively between the US Department of Education and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on Maryland Avenue SW in Washington DC.

The back of the memorial is a screen with a sort of camouflage netting. There are benches all around and large displays with statues. The displays are inscribed with Ike’s words, including a small excerpt from his remarks to the troops before D-Day and a piece of his farewell speech in which he warns of the military industrial complex.

His words are eloquent and his attitude humble. Whenever I see film of him reminiscing about the Second World War, I am struck by how truly saddened he is by all the deaths and suffering. This comes through in the words etched into the marble walls. Off to the side is a wall commemorating his postwar homecoming. He was just a kid from Abilene Kansas who aspired to a modest life as a policeman or a train conductor who ended up freeing millions from tyranny.

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