As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th President of the United States
In the world today, the surging and understandable tide of nationalism is marked by widespread revulsion and revolt against tyranny, injustice, inequality, and poverty. As individuals, joined in a common hunger for freedom, men and women and even children pit their spirit against guns and tanks. On a larger scale, in an ever more persistent search for the self-respect of authentic sovereignty and the economic base on which national independence must rest, people sever old ties, seek new alliances, experiment – sometimes dangerously – in their struggle to satisfy these human aspirations. Particularly, in the past year, the tide has changed the pattern of attitudes and thinking among millions. The changes already accomplished foreshadow a world transformed by the spirit of freedom. This is no faint and pious hope. The forces now at work in the hands and hearts of men will not be spent through many years. In the main, today’s expressions of nationalism are, in spirit, echoes of our forefathers’ struggle for independence. – State of the Union Address, January 10, 1957
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower was born in October 1890, in Denison, Texas. The family moved to Abilene, Kansas, where he grew up. He graduated from Abilene High School. The family called him Dwight, although his birth name was David Dwight, so he reversed the order of his given names when he enrolled at West Point Military Academy. He graduated in the upper half of his class. That class became known as “the class the stars fell on,” because 59 members eventually became general officers.
Eisenhower served in the infantry at various camps in Texas and Georgia. During World War I, he became the number three leader of the new tank corps and rose to temporary Lieutenant Colonel in the National Army. His unit did not see combat during the war. He served in the Panama Canal Zone, and at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Fort Benning, Georgia. For a time he served as chief military aide to General Douglas MacArthur, accompanying him to the Philippines. After sixteen years as a major, he was promoted to the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
On his return to the U.S., he held a series of staff positions in Washington, D.C., California and Texas. On the eve of World War II, he was promoted to Brigadier General. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, where he served until June 1942 with the responsibility for creating the major war plans to defeat Japan and Germany. In 1942, he was appointed Commanding General, European Theater of Operations and was based in London. His war exploits are numerous, including the D-Day assault on the coast of Normandy under the code name Operation Overlord, and the liberation of Western Europe and invasion of Germany.
Following the war, Eisenhower returned to Washington as Chief of Staff of the Army. In 1948, he became President of Columbia University, and two years later took leave from the university to become the Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Not long thereafter there was a “Draft Eisenhower” movement across the U.S. He was courted by both parties, and the “I Like Ike” slogan saw him elected as President in 1952.
Throughout his presidency, he preached a doctrine of “dynamic conservatism.” Among his many enduring achievements as the Interstate Highway System, the admittance of Alaska and Hawaii as States, the insertion of “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, and the adoption of “In God We Trust” as the United States motto and its introduction onto paper currency.
He served two terms, and was the first U.S. president to be constitutionally prevented from standing for re-election, having served the maximum two terms. He retired to a working farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, next to the famed battlefield. The land was later donated to the National Park Service. He died in March 1969 at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington of congestive heart failure, and is buried in a small chapel at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.
President Eisenhower was married to Mamie Doud, and they had four sons. His faith is listed a Presbyterian.