“Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.”~ President Eisenhower
Those very words spoken by the great 5-star General and 34th President Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower could not be more pertinent in 2020 United States where unrest and violence are ever-present on the streets. There seems to be no peace or justice anymore. While national tragedies have almost always brought the American people together, the COVID-19 pandemic has done the exact opposite. Our country is divided into and controlled by “two warring factions” where extremists hold the most power and voices of moderation continue to be shut out. Many families and friendships have been torn apart as people are being drowned by what can be only described as a tidal wave of intense hatred and animosity.
We Americans desperately need something to distract us from all the chaos that is unfolding, to help us to realize that despite our many differences we are all human beings, and to repeat the common mantra heard during the pandemic, we’re all truly in this together. It is only appropriate that after decades of planning, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial just south of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is finally opening this Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 7:00 p.m – you can live stream the Memorial Dedication Ceremony via Facebook Live. The timing could not have been more perfect. Eisenhower epitomized great leadership, especially during times of immense crisis. He had a knack of bringing out the best in people, boosting morale, and building trust.
As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II, General Eisenhower led American forces to victory against the unspeakable evil that was Nazi Germany. “The eyes of the world are upon us,” he affirmed as 150,000 brave soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as part of a skillful and risky operation that served as a major turning point in the war. Following the war, he mostly retreated out of the public eye while still staying involved in academics and diplomacy. He did not want to run for President but trusted the will of the American people who successfully encouraged him to run. Known as a warrior before, Eisenhower’s presidency by contrast was a remarkable time of peace. While in office, he presided over a booming economy as well as a cultural revolution. Though he possessed a quiet and reserved demeanor, he was assertive, not passive, and definitely not afraid to call out people and organizations when necessary. In the later years of his presidency, he warned against the threat of the rising “military-industrial complex,” which doesn’t sound too different from comments our current President made last week.
I personally rank “Ike” (as he preferred to be called) in the top five of American presidents, and I have always believed that history doesn’t give him the recognition he deserves for his many accomplishments. Ironically, being a man of great character and humility, being overlooked is how Eisenhower would’ve liked it. He was a special president, specifically because he wasn’t a politician and didn’t care that much at all for politics. He specifically held little regard for ideological bickering, which I talked about in my previous piece “The Death of Centrism.” Ike worked not to advance any particular agenda but simply to serve the people and get the job done.
It’s a shame how little media coverage the monument’s planned opening has received. Could it be possible that news sources are avoiding a positive story that will unite Americans on purpose? Do they think it would, God forbid, give the American people hope, in what has already been considered a “lost year?” One thing’s for sure, if Ike were alive today, he would certainly want no part of the ceremony that will be taking place on Thursday. However, as he did so victoriously before, he would humbly and with a great love of country, lead us all through the healing process that our American political landscape so desperately needs.
Next time I am in the nation’s capital, I will surely pay a visit to the new Eisenhower Memorial, and if you are planning to visit Washington or live in the area, I implore you to stop by the National Mall to see its newest monument.