Thursday, May 29, 2008

We Like Ike

One Memorial Day, Erin and I took a trip out west to Abiline, KS to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Museum. The trip combined 3 of our favorite hobbies: photography, antiquing (Erin) and studying WWII history (me).

As a brief outline of Dwight Eisenhower's career, he was born in Abiline, KS (tiny town west of Manhattan), began training tank crews during and after WWI (alongside of George Patton), eventually became Supreme High Commander of the Allied Forces during WWII and (reluctantly) was elected President and served two terms.
I love studying great leaders. Even just being around his artifacts made me feel like I was in the presence of greatness. Eisenhower lead through a disciplined tenacity. Here's a great quote of his on leadership, "that leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well."

The historians being quoted at the museum believed that Eisenhower's policies of engaging communism during the Cold War lead to the eventual fall of Soviet Russia. What's truly amazing is that though Eisenhower assumed he wouldn't be alive long enough to witness the fall of communism (he wasn't) he firmly believed that if the US stuck to his approach to the engagement of Soviet Russia, the system of communism would eventually fall. Now that's disciplined leadership that focuses on the common good rather than personal (political) gain. No wonder there was a political button that read "We miss Ike."

What really impressed me about Eisenhower was his dogged determination to avoid war at all costs. He knew firsthad the terrors of war, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." And while he admitted that war is sometimes an unavoidable reality necessary, "The hand of aggression is stayed by force alone" he did everything his his power to prevent war.
As soon as Eisenhower was elected, he got us out of Korea. As soon as Eisenhower left office, we were plunged into the Vietnam War. Here's how Eisenhower summed his his peaceful 8 years as Commander-in-Chief, "The United States never lost a soldier or a foot of ground in my administration. We kept the peace. People asked how it happened — by God, it didn’t just happen, I’ll tell you that." It seems Eisenhower believed that avoiding war took stronger leadership than allowing our nation to be sucked into war. "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

And here's another great quote that summs up Eisenhower's feelings toward war, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?"

I just can't help myself, here are few other great quotes.
In speaking of the Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb in Japan, "I was against it on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon."
In his a message given to soldiers preparing for the invasion of Europe (D-Day), "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely…. The free men of the world are marching together to Victory! I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

And a speech he prepared to give (but thankfully didn't have to) in case D-Day/Operation Overlord failed, "Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone. "

If you'd like to read more great Eisenhower quotes, follow this link.
"I Like Ike" in French. I wonder why the French liked him so much? Maybe because he saved their sorry tails.
That's one big bomb!

The jacket worn by President Bush when he threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium to start the 2001 World Series and a famous saxaphone from President Clinton.

The signature of George Washington on his family Bible.
I wonder if this Shaeffer pen was made at the plant in my hometown of Fort Madison, IA?
The table around which Allied Leaders sat while planning the invasion of Hitler's Europe.

The Eisenhower home.

Some general pictures of Abline


1 comment:

joe k said...

As a Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and for someone who hated war, he sure could kick some a**!