No, this is not a political post. It’s just that we really enjoy visiting the presidential libraries/museums. And we realized that Abilene Kansas, where the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library is located, was on our way from Kansas City to Denver. This was the fifth presidential library we’ve visited.
The libraries and museums provide a unique insight into the presidents’ personal and political lives, and into the years that they served.
One of the things I enjoy is that each presidential library is different, since the presidents (except for John F. Kennedy) were personally involved in developing them. Each president’s character is etched into their library.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum itself is located on the original site of President Eisenhower’s childhood home. The home and land were donated to the Eisenhower Foundation, which maintained it until it was given to the Federal Government in 1966.
The Presidential Library site includes the boyhood home, the library, the museum, and the Place of Meditation.
The meditation space is where, according to President Eisenhower’s wishes, it is hoped that visitors would reflect upon the ideals that made this a great nation and pledge themselves again to continued loyalty to those ideals.
The Boyhood Home – President Eisenhower lived in this (then) six-bedroom house with his parents, David and Ida, and five brothers from 1898 until he enrolled in the United States Military Academy in 1909.
Although President Eisenhower was not born In Abilene, the years he spent here were amongst the most important in his life. His father moved to Denison, Texas where he worked cleaning train engines for a living after having lost his business, but moved back to Abilene so he could take a better job at his brother-in-law’s creamery.
From this modest upbringing, the six brothers went on to successful careers: a bank vice-president, a lawyer, a pharmacist, an electrical engineer, a university president, and of course, President of the United States.
The Museum – When touring the museum, what struck us most was the emphasis on World War II. More than half of the museum is dedicated to detailing the situation in the various regions of the world just prior to the war and to the events that led to the war.
This reflects Eisenhower’s distinguished military career, and his important role in the D-Day invasion and the eventual victory in the Europe.
Amongst them, he; signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 to protect the right to vote, contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking the modern expanded version of executive privilege, continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security, launched the Interstate Highway System, created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), signed the National Defense Education Act providing loans for college students and funds to encourage young people to enter teaching careers and encouraged peaceful use of nuclear power via amendments to the Atomic Energy Act.
And, as always, the First Lady, Mamie Doud Eisenhower, was a fascinating woman in her own right. She moved to various army posts in the United States and around the world during his military career and was known as a gracious and popular First Lady. From 1952-1961, she appeared in Gallup Poll’s list of the “Ten Most Admired Women in America”.
And because of his strong military background, General Eisenhower was an advocate for peace. In his 1961 farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower expressed his concerns about future dangers of massive military spending, especially deficit spending, and coined the term “military-industrial complex”.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People, 1/17/61
“Having established as our goals a lasting world peace with justice and the security of freedom on this earth, we must be prepared to make whatever sacrifices are demanded as we pursue this path to its end.” Remarks at the Fort Pitt Chapter, Association of the United States Army May 31, 1961
A fascinating man.