Introduction to Government
Dwight D. Eisenhower, our nation’s 34th President, was a man of great accomplishments that rival those of his predecessors, in spite of his patriotism being widely unsung. Throughout a great number of decades, the man had served the United States in a multitude of dutiful ways that were unique to his intelligence, character and moral fiber.
Eisenhower was born October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas. Denison is north of Dallas just along The Red River, which serves as a border between Oklahoma and Texas. Perhaps his birthplace was indicative of the “cowboy” Eisenhower would later become. Being raised in rural Kansas, his greatness would have to first overcome great financial woes of the turn of the century in rural America’s farmlands.
When young Dwight Eisenhower finally graduated from high school, he was 19, an age that today would pray tell of irresponsibility. However, in the early 1900s it was commonplace for “most kids [to] never finish the eighth grade” (Thinkquest.org). With that said, and knowing the best early educations were out of reach for many, a certain determination began to bud outward from the regolith that Eisenhower had shot up from.
After High School, Eisenhower eventually aspired for a higher education. He saw an opportunity of a lifetime at West Point Military Academy in New York. During his attendance of West Point, he learned many of the skills that would be necessary means to a brilliant military career and structured lifestyle that perhaps his father, the sometimes “failed business[man]” (3), could not provide.
Much like many new Army Officers of the time, Eisenhower initially took a fairly extensive stateside tour of duty around 1915. It was during this tour that he met his wife, Mamie Geneva Doud. With seemingly new found vigor for life and work, Eisenhower’s assignments finally began to pay off, giving “him many opportunities to exercise his natural leadership” qualities (3). His work would soon take him throughout Europe, which would later be of great importance to his direct involvement of “D Day”. Without the skills he learned abroad during this time, it is difficult to say whether WWII would have ended as gracefully (yea right!) as it did. Eisenhower’s time and effort of service to the United States was a distinguished and great one. He served through many of the grittiest moments in American Military History and did so with relative eloquence. He was successful not only in bloodying his hands in honor, but also in washing them. Eisenhower retired from the U.S. Army in 1950 at the rank of 5-star General and Military Governor.
While it is true that Eisenhower had seemingly already lived the lives of several hairy-chested men, he himself was merely one. Like many a man of greatness, Eisenhower’s dutiful way and inspiring service to America did little to halt the people’s demand for his expertise and involvement in civility. At the ripe age of 62, he emerged from a brief two year retirement to announce his candidacy for The United States Presidency.
The “I Like Ike” Campaign had one of the more memorable campaign slogans of the 20th century. Alongside this punchy catchphrase was a cartoon figure of the retired U.S. General’s mug shot. At the end of the day, the proof was in the pudding. The people did like Ike. In 1952, he assumed the role of the 34th President of The United States of America.
During his time in office, President Eisenhower operated with similar vigor and purpose as he did during his military service. Albeit a shorter list of executive accomplishments than some, he was able to hone his visions of America more straightforward toward successes than most. The Civil Rights Bill of 1957, helping to end the Korean War, keeping peace, exceptional fiscal policy and budgeting are just a few of Eisenhower’s contributions during his 8 years in office. But by far, the most awesome of all of his executive accomplishments is still relished today, The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.
The infrastructure created by Eisenhower and his visionary gusto are much of the glue keeping the country’s highways together today, over a half century later. Also, the amount of work done right here in America during the 1950s goes widely unmatched anywhere. By the time Eisenhower was done building the infrastructure of the American Highway System, Americans were already well acquainted with seeing the beauty of America from behind the wheel of their own cars. This was the birth of the great American vacation, the road trip and neo-nomadic summers that defined opportunities that were once simply dreams.
Post-Presidential life for Eisenhower was devoted more in part to the wholesomeness of country life learned in adolescence. He and Mamie moved to rural Pennsylvania, which was in many ways the physical manifestation of said wholesomeness. This site was later persevered as an American National Historical Site. There, he wrote several books of memoirs, one of which spent time on the bestsellers list. Eisenhower also advised JFK and later, LBJ over the diverse issues that each of them faced during their times in office. (5)
Later in life, Eisenhower would develop heart problems through a string of mild and later more serious heart attacks. On March 28th, 1969, he died due to congestive heart failure. He is buried in Abilene, Kansas alongside the rest of the Eisenhower family.
The legacy left behind by Dwight D. Eisenhower is one of excellence, dignity and prestige. Like many who have gone before him, he answered the call of duty countless times and returned to civilian life criticized and under-appreciated. Because it is sometimes challenging to illustrate adequate admiration with mere words, the United States has made several attempts, as they often do, to do so without them. Two cases that this can be observed are: the minting of the United States Silver Dollar from 1971-78 and Eisenhower’s biggest claim to fame yet, the United States Dime. Even today, American’s tireless admiration for “Ike” is attempting to bring new life to his legacy. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission is doing everything within their power to execute a national monument in memorandum of President/General Eisenhower.
In summation, President Eisenhower was a president of greatness not often matched today. His expertise and knowledge not only of America, but it’s rivals was essential to our country’s well being throughout the 1950s. In fact, many of his executions may not be considered news worthy today, leaving us more unsatisfied than anything. I’ve come to realize that this unsavory feeling actually has less to do with Eisenhower’s accomplishments and more to do with our own need to weigh checks and balances upon things that we know. It is easy to have an opinion about war, poverty and slavery. It is more difficult to passionately execute decisions regarding lesser known (and less exciting) political issues. It takes time, research and diligence. This, in turn, has become boring to the American people of today and sequentially, the popularity of President Eisenhower has suffered. Something tells me he doesn’t mind much, though.
2. “American Elementary Schools in the early 1900s” http://library.thinkquest.org/J002606/early1900s.html