Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dwight Eisenhower's Birthday

Dwight Eisenhower's high school classmates knew he liked history and they envisioned him as a history professor at Yale. His older brother, Edgar, impressed them as well. They thought he would become President.  

Dwight D. Eisenhower Official Presidential Portrait

Today, there was no mention of Dwight Eisenhower's birthday in the long list of newsy bookmarks I review almost every day. That's a bit surprising because his stature among American presidents has increased greatly since he left office in 1961 portrayed by many as an aging, mediocre, and out of touch executive. The following quote from the Eisenhower National Historic Site credits him with these top five accomplishments:

1. He kept the nation at peace:
2, He ended the Korean War:
3. He balanced the budget not once, but three times:
4. He sponsored and signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956:
5. He sponsored and signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1957:
Eisenhower was confronted with major Cold War crises every year he was in office: Korea, Vietnam, Formosa, Suez, Hungary, Berlin, and the U-2. While more than once America seemed on the brink of war and those around him clamored to drop the Bomb, Eisenhower always kept a level head. He dealt calmly and rationally with each situation, always finding a solution that avoided war without diminishing America's prestige.
He alone had the prestige to persuade Americans to accept a negotiated peace and convince the Chinese that failure to reach an agreement would lead to dire consequences. Eisenhower considered this to be his greatest presidential accomplishment.
Despite much pressure to do otherwise, he also refused to cut taxes and raise defense spending. His fiscal policy contributed to the prosperity of the 1950's.
This gave birth to America's interstate highway system. Eisenhower worked hard to get the bill passed and it was his favorite piece of legislation.
This was the first civil rights bill since Reconstruction. Much to Eisenhower's dismay, Congress amended the bill and critically weakened its effectiveness.
Here are some links to the home places that were significant to Dwight Eisenhower. Each of them provides additional biographical information for readers who may want to learn more about one of our most significant presidents - the Siena College Research Institute ranked him #10 in a 2010 poll of 238 presidential scholars.

Eisenhower Birthplace, Denison, Texas
Born in 1890, Dwight David Eisenhower spent his first two years living in the small railroad town of Denison, Texas. Visit the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site website for more information.

Eisenhower Family Home, Abilene, Kansas
Eisenhower spent his formative years from 1892 to 1911 in the old cow town of Abilene, Kansas. He always called Abilene his hometown. It is the site of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home. 

Eisenhower may have appreciated the meaning and value of "home," but as a military careerist he and his wife, Mamie, often had nowhere to call their own. Their roaming ended in 1950 when they purchased a farm at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  It was in fact the only home they ever owned. Today, the National Park Service maintains the home and farm as the Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Opening paragraph, Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home website.

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