Today, a 21-year-old promise will be fulfilled. Making good on a Congressional mandate dating back to October 1999, a monument to Dwight D. Eisenhower, designed by Frank Gehry and now open to the public, will be formally dedicated, adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, DC. The dedication occurs 75 years after Ike accepted the formal surrender of Wehrmacht forces to end the war in Europe and nearly six decades after he retired from serving two successful terms as the nation’s 34th president.

When Eisenhower died in March 1969, the New York Times’s columnist Tom Wicker said he was a poster boy for the American dream—the Kansas farm boy made good. But few contemporary observers much appreciated the degree to which that “ordinary fellow” from the heart of America—as Ike liked to describe himself—was a sly and effective politician, whose prudent stewardship kept the nation prosperous and at peace during the 1950s.

Michael J. Birkner is Professor of History at Gettysburg College. He is the author or editor of several books on Eisenhower, including, with co-author Carol Hegeman, Eisenhower’s Gettysburg Farm (Arcadia Press, 2017) and Encounters with Eisenhower (coedited with Devin McKinney, published by Gettysburg College in 2015).

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