This journey has been an amazing combination of witnessing America’s physical beauty and discovering more about its history. Readers of the blog know that Presidential Libraries have been an especially interesting part of this trip.
Visiting Presidential libraries for us had been a walk down memory lane prior to Kansas City. Both Karen and I were born during Eisenhower’s term of office (Karen just barely) but really had few actual memories prior to JFK. Our visit to the Eisenhower library really helped understand more about America during and after WWII.
Our visit to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri gave us a chance to explore an increment of American history prior to WWII and bridging into our childhood. Truman grew up as a product of a Missouri farming family. He entered politics in Missouri after returning from service in WWI and served as a State Senator prior to being tapped to serve as VP for Roosevelt prior to Roosevelt’s death just months after he was re-elected to office in 1945.
Harry S. Truman preceded Eisenhower as President and served between April 1945 and January 1953. Although World War II had began with Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland in September 1939, the United States did not enter the war until after the Japanese bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency took us into WWII but his death in office in 1945 put Truman in a position to end the war with the use of the atomic bombs in Japan and into the Cold War those of us born in the 1950’s remember all too well.
Truman also presided over the reconstruction of Europe under the Marshall Plan as well as the transition of the US economy from wartime to a peacetime and continued struggle for civil rights.
Of particular interest for me we’re the geo-political insights from this period including the Cold War with Russia, Israel and the Korean War and China’s role which filled in a lot of “the blanks” to current events.
And, as a finale the Library had a wonderful tribute to the year of my birth with Life Magazine covers and articles throughout 1952!
Jazz and Blues…an American music tradition. BBQ…an American food tradition…Kansas City has both and our evening at BB’s Lawnside BBQ did not disappoint.
I had the Burned Ends Dinner and Karen had Memphis Minnie’s’ Smoked Catfish. Both wonderful!
The highlight was young Taylor Swift and the Taylor Swift Band.
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
It didn’t take long after leaving Colorado Springs heading east to see the flat land of the Plaines.Our first overnight stop was Shady Grove Campground in Seibert, Colorado. Simple, clean overnight.
Next day on to Ellis, Kansas. The City’s Lakeview Campground was a wonderful 2 night stay even with cloudy skies and foggy overnights.
Ellis is a small town (population approximately 2,000) without much development but it has an interesting history dating back to the mid-1800’s as settlers moved west. A highlight of this stay and a landmark in the history of Ellis is St. Mary’s Catholic Church. This history, contained on the Church’s website, tells the story of the town and the Church’s role in its history.
History of St Marys Parish
We enjoyed Mass and could “feel” the community of Ellis through those in attendance.
Karen is great for finding great hikes. Rampart Reservoir was less than 10 miles from our site at Diamond Campground and we did a final hike in our Woodland Park stay. Beautiful weather and a great 3.4 mile hike before starting preparations to continue our journey east.
The Colorado Springs area is rich in things to do and see. The Air Force Academy was a highlight.
The most striking architecture on the campus is the 1962 Chapel. This beautiful structure contains individual Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist chapels.
The campus provides tribute to the rich history of the Air Force.