I love visiting the official Presidential Libraries. They are an incredible way to learn about our history and leadership. President Eisenhower's Library is located in Abilene Kansas.
This statue of Ike is in the middle of the Eisenhower Center, which is in the middle of a wheat field, which is in the middle of Abilene Kansas, which is in the middle of nowhere.
The statue is perched upon a pedestal that has 5 sides, each one boasting official Seals of different offices this man would earn. He would become a 5 Star General, Chief of Staff of the US Army, Supreme Allied Commander, Supreme Commander of NATO, and President of the United States. Not a bad resume for a kid who grew up in the middle of nowhere.
The house he grew up in is still there, and it remains furnished mostly the way he would have remembered it. His mom lived there until a few years after the war, and they have kept the house the way she left it. There is something very interesting about seeing the roots of a person who would grow up to do amazing things.
My favorite thing in the house is a rocking chair, perched next to a radio. Its likely that this is exactly the place that Mrs. Eisenhower would sit and listen to news reports of her son's activities. In particular, she would have sat there listening to reports of D-Day, 65 years ago today.
Ike's mom, Ida, had seven sons, with Ike in the middle as the third child. All of them were successful in their own right as leaders in various institutions. Shortly after D-Day, Ida was asked by reporters on the porch of this house about the events of June 6, 1944 and the success of the invasion. When asked "Are you proud of your son?", she gave one of the best mom answers she could give. "Yes, I am very proud of my son. Now which one are you referring to?"
I love that.
Now that I am a parent, I can imagine even more how amazing and surreal it must be to see what your kid actually accomplishes. Few accomplish the things Ike did, but each kid can accomplish great things in his or her world. I am also strangely moved in a new way as I watch the D-Day festivities today and look at my newborn son, and realize that sacrifice of that day was for his freedom as well as my own.
Its a moving day, and I appreciated the ceremony today. But with respect to contemporary speakers, there is still no tribute better than President Reagan's in 1984.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. - President Ronald Reagan, 6.6.84
It is truly a different era that we live in today. Full of doubt and threats greater than any day in the last 65 years in my view. But I believe and pray that rising from our doubt, we will soon have a renewed hope.