Thursday, May 14, 2009
President Eisenhower Center
On 8 May we finished all the work on the motorhome and started our trek west towards Colorado Springs. We wanted to travel at a relatively fast pace for two or three days so we would have some layover days available should spring storms cross our path in the grasslands. So we made quick overnight stops in Marshall, IL, and Higginsville, MO. The third day we hit Abilene, Kansas and we decided to stay two nights to visit this once famous western town and the President Dwight Eisenhower Center.
The Eisenhower Center is in the center of town and contains the presidential library, museum, boyhood family home, and meditation chapel where President Eisenhower and his wife are interned. The museum is large and contains a great deal of information on his life and times. Many hours could be spent here by those who want to read every piece of information available. For those of us of a certain age, we have heard the many stories of his leadership during WWII, and as the first president we really remember from our youth. He died in 1969, just as I was graduating from college.
One interesting part of the exhibit was the gifts from foreign heads of state. Of course, all were meant to be elaborate and reflect the culture of the country, such as the desk inlaid with ivory and gold from the Shah of Iran with symbols of Islam. The ones I found a bit amusing were the gifts from those who were royalty, who presented framed pictures of themselves.
The picture you get of this man is one of duty to his country based on honesty and dedication to principles he believed in and in learned principles of leadership. He understood that positional power was an obligation and not avenue to special privilege. As you trace his work throughout his military career and the assignments he is given and the results of his efforts, it becomes clear why he was ultimately selected to lead the ally efforts in Europe to defeat the Nazis. After the war these same outstanding qualities lead to him being drafted to run for President.
This has been our fifth presidential center we have visited and one I have enjoyed a great deal. I cannot help but wonder how he would manage today’s problems compared to some of current leadership, who struggle thru with vague ideas and principles and in some cases with little experience and background to do the job.
I found one of his quotes that could easily apply to our current quest for security against all our fears and the apparent willingness to give up our freedoms for that security. When asked about the fears of Americans during the early days of the cold war and nuclear weapons, he noted that “if all Americans want is security, they can go to prison”
It is well worth the visit.