Continuing our journey east through Kansas brought another Presidential Library…that of Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower….the last President born in the 19th century. His presidency (1953-1961) was preceded by that of a Harry Truman and succeeded by John F. Kennedy.
Although Ike was born in a Texas, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas when he was 2. He graduated from West Point in 1915 and although he wanted to see combat in WW1 he instead commanded a unit that trained tank crews (where he met George Patton).
Following the war, he served under various generals and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1941. After the U.S. entered World War II, Eisenhower oversaw the successful invasions of North Africa and Sicily before supervising the invasions of France and Germany. After the war, Eisenhower served as Army Chief of Staffas and then took on the uncomfortable role as president of Columbia University. In 1951–52, he served as the first Supreme Commander of NATO before becoming the first a Republican President since Herbert Hoover in 1928.
The Library in Abilene is on the site of his childhood home and also the final resting place of the President, his wife Mamie and their eldest son who died at age 3 of scarlet fever.
Eisenhower was considered a moderate conservative and best known for opposing the expansion of the Soviet Union and reducing federal deficits. His other accomplishments are noted on the photos captured at the Library.
I was born the year Ike took office but my memories of Ike are limited to the final years of his Presidency and the inauguration of his successor, John Kennedy. I do have vivid memories of the nuclear/Soviet fear that swept the country during Ike’s term and a subject I’m interested in reading more about in retirement.
We encourage anyone visiting Kansas to check out the Eisenhower Library. One of our travel goals is to visit as many Presidential libraries as possible. Next on this years adventure is Harry Truman’s in Missouri and Bill Clinton’s in Little Rock. Readers of this blog already know those we’ve already seen on this trip