You are on page 1of 7

President Dwight D.

How did this individual change the world?


April 15, 2008

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Bringing to the Presidency his prestige as commanding general of the victorious forces in Europe during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower obtained a truce in Korea and worked relentlessly during his two terms to ease the tensions of the Cold War. He pursued the moderate policies of “Modern Republicanism,” pointing out as he left office, “America is today the strongest, most influential, and most productive nation in the world.” This is just the start of what Eisenhower did to help change America. On October 14, 1890, at 5:19 p.m., at the corner of Lamar Avenue and Day Street, Denison, Texas, David Dwight Eisenhower was born to the proud parents - David and Ida (Stover) Eisenhower. His family had always addressed him by his middle name (Dwight) to differentiate him from his father. Later he became known as Dwight D. Eisenhower, transposing his first and middle names. I found this to be very interesting, because I never heard that his real name was David Dwight Eisenhower. Also that his nickname progressed from “Little Ike” to “Ikey” a few days later, then to “Ikky”, but later changed to the spelling of “Icky”. Hence the irresistible slogan “I like Ike”. Living during a time when a high school education was considered a luxury for most, all 6 (living to maturity) of the Eisenhower boys graduated, and, at their parents’ urging, dared to dream of even a college education. His parents seemed very supportive and encouraging. I wonder if he had been born to different parents, would he have accomplished the same wonderful things? He graduated from Abilene High School in 1909, excelling in sports. In 1911 he obtained an appointment to the West Point Military Academy, graduating June 12, 1915. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 19th infantry, San Antonio, Texas. It was there in October 1915, that he met his future wife, Mamie Geneva Doud. They married at 12 noon on July 1, 1916 in the Doud family home. They had two sons together, Doud Dwight Eisenhower (September 24, 1917) and Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (August 3, 1922). Tragically, their first son had died at the age of three from scarlet fever. His death remained an open wound, one of which the couple would never fully recover. This is very understandable. The death of a young child would be hard for anyone to overcome. I’m surprised he continued on with his military career. Maybe it was part of his way to cope with the loss. In the beginning of his Army career, he excelled in staff assignments, serving under Generals John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and Walter Krueger. After Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942; on D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France. Mamie had to be very supportive to move from place to place with her husband as he got transferred, and probably didn’t get to see as much of him as she would have liked to. I wonder if she would have rather just settled down in one place and be a stay at

home mother with her son? What if they would have done that? Would America still be the same? After the war, in 1948, he became President of Columbia University, where he took a leave to take role as supreme command over the new NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces being assembled in 1951. Republican emissaries to his headquarters near Paris persuaded him to run for President in 1952. After resigning from the Army to run, Dwight David Eisenhower was elected the 34 president of the United States on November 4, 1952. Ending the war in Korea was one of his principal campaign promises. After defeating the Democratic Challenger Adlai Stevenson, he set about fulfilling that promise. Eisenhower laid the groundwork for ending the war, before he’d even taken office. To me, this shows that he was an honest and not corrupt politician. He said what he would do, and it wasn’t just to win the election. He was sincere and that’s always a good quality, especially when it comes to running a country. Just months after his inauguration, he delivered on his campaign pledge, bring the Korean War to an end (July of 1953).

Suddenly, on September 24th, 1955, Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in Denver, Colorado. After seven weeks he left the hospital, and in February 1956 doctors reported his recovery. In November he was elected for his second term by an even wider margin than in the first. While serving his second term, he suffered a stroke (November 25th, 1957), but made a quick recovery. Although criticized by some historians for a lack of leadership on racial issues, President Eisenhower supported and signed the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts, and ordered federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the desegregation of Central High School. How could historians believe he had a lack of leadership on racial issues? He supported desegregation and promoted world peace all his life. He even created People to People (we’ll get to that later. . .) for crying out loud! In my opinion, he was a great leader, especially when it came to racial issues and people’s thoughts that one race was better than another. He even wrote “There must be no second class citizens in this country”, when ordering the complete desegregation of the Armed Forces. Americans enjoyed a strong, expanding economy under Eisenhower, demonstrated by solid economic growth, little inflation, and low unemployment. Balancing the budget was one of Eisenhower’s top priorities tempered with a sincere concern for the common good. Eisenhower expanded social security, increased the minimum wage, and established the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). During the Eisenhower presidency, the Interstate Highway System and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were created, and therefore space exploration began. Near the end of his presidency, Alaska and Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states of the Union, respectively. It sounds like Eisenhower did a lot of good to our country, and helped us recover even more from the great depression a few decades back.

The founding of People to People International Bob Hope, entertainer, Jesse Owens, Olympic Champion, Joyce Hall of Hallmark Cards, and amusement creator Walt Disney all have one thing in common. People to People Heritage. In 1956 these citizen leaders sat shoulder to shoulder with their friend President Dwight D. Eisenhower in founding an organization to promote world peace and understanding: People to People. This would continue on to be a successful program for years to come and is the primary reason I chose to do my report on Dwight D. Eisenhower. I was lucky enough to take part in this program three summers ago, and it definitely changed my understanding of different nations. The president knew from his experience as a military commander that ordinary citizens of different nations could make a difference where governments could not. He wanted people to know and understand that while we are all very different, our values, goals, and day-to-day issues are very much the same. Through his discussions with leaders of the time, came several People to People initiatives, including Sister Cities International and Project Hope. In next to no time, President Eisenhower decided that the spirit of People to People would be best preserved in the hands of private citizens rather than faceless government entities. While adult professionals were the first individuals to embark on personal journeys to build bridges with other cultures and regions of the world, now students have the opportunity as well. Through summer and sports ambassador programs, as well as student exchange and leadership seminars across the globe, thousands of delegates have explored fascinating destinations – from North America to Europe, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and even Antarctica – making friends all along the way. Eisenhower strongly believed in the power of the citizen ambassador. According to him, ‘the people want peace; indeed, I believe they want peace so badly that the governments will just have to step aside and let them have it.” Not only do student ambassadors have the opportunity to change the impression people have of the American youth, but even their whole image of America! This program is amazing! It has definitely widened my horizons and helped me grow as a person to understand cultural differences, but more importantly, similarities. If I had to pick the greatest thing President Dwight D. Eisenhower did for our country, this program would have to be it. Many could argue saying other things were much greater, but then again, I know at least 44 and more of my fellow ambassadors that would side right along with me, from Nebraska, Alaska, Florida, and Australia – we have all benefitted from the experience, thanks to our dear friend Dwight D. Eisenhower!

On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower bid farewell to the nation in a speech, warning of dire consequences to our personal freedoms and self-government should its power go unchecked. Finally on January 20, Eisenhower left office for a muchanticipated retirement. For half a century, he had tried his hardest to live the West Point motto: Duty, Honor ,and Country, to the very best of his ability. But, the enormous pressures and heavy responsibilities of the last twenty years, predominantly, had taken a toll on his health. During his retirement, he and his wife enjoyed leisurely activities. From painting, golf, raising livestock, gardening, reading, and playing cards, he enjoyed his ‘time off’ from his stressful life and did need his long awaited vacation. He spent his last year at Walter Reed Army Hospital as his health rapidly declined. His heart was weakening, slowly ending his life. Mamie stayed by his side, living in a small room just off the presidential suite. Finally, on March 28, 1969, Dwight D. Eisenhower uttered his last words, “I want to go; God take me.” His heart gave up its struggle and he died peacefully. Following a state funeral in Washington, DC, Eisenhower was buried in a modest chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Center, where he joined Doud Dwight, the son he had lost nearly fifty years beforehand. Dwight D. Eisenhower had returned home to stay.