"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969

If you are asking yourself why review a book instead of anything political today, it is because most sites are concentrating on the Arizona shootings and former Alaska Governor who quit as Governor inserting herself into  the day of the Memorial Service. Media is usually not fair but you have to take the heat if you are going to be on a national stage.  That's reality. 

After reading all the websites I came across this article on the Weekly Standard about the new book on Eisenhower by his grandson and his wife.  All of a sudden it hit me that this would be the perfect way to end the week by remembering a true American hero.

When I was in high school, we had to do book reports every six weeks and mine was always on books about Dwight D. Eisenhower.  My Dad had nothing but the best to say about this man who commanded the troops in Europe of which my Dad was one.  He would have done anything that Ike asked. 

My Dad only put political bumper strips on his car twice that I can remember when I was living at home -- he had 'I Like Ike' on a car he drove forever -- used to think when I understood the bumper strip as I got older, that he kept driving the old car to keep the bumper strip.  Then in 1964, he put on 'In Your Heart You Know He is Right' for Barry Goldwater and then after he lost had the famous 'I was one in 27 million' bumper strip on his car for years.

No one until Ronald Reagan came along had even close to the respect that my Dad had for Dwight Eisenhower as a military leader and as President.  Ike was always #1 with my Dad.  He always felt he set the right tone and did the best he could to stop the fighting in the Korean War after he took over on top of all the rest of his accomplishments including integrating schools in Little Rock, AR, which people including some blacks tend to forget.  Ike was huge believer in equality in America no matter the race of a person.  As I was visiting websites this morning looking for information on Ike I ran across a military site dedicated to his 100 years in 1990.

The Supreme Commander talks with men of Company E, 502d Parachute
Infantry Regiment, at the 101st Airborne Division's camp at Greenham
Common, England, 5 June 1944. Eisenhower had the highest regard
for America's citizen-soldier; the soldiers recognized and returned the trust.
It brought back all the conversations Dad had around the kitchen table when we were eating about Ike. My parents watched the Convention as my Dad wouldn't miss seeing Ike Remember him telling me in later years how he put me on his lap to watch it even though I was little. Often wondered if he bought the TV so he could watch the convention. I can attribute my first love of politics to my Dad and Ike! The opening on the military history site captures the essence of Ike who he was known as around the world.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a master craftsman in the demanding art of leadership. For twenty years, first as a soldier and then as a statesman, he bore the daily responsibility for difficult decisions that had far-reaching consequences for the nation. An obscure Army officer in 1940, he was internationally known four years later as the Supreme Allied Commander who was leading the Allied armies, navies, and air forces in the crusade in Europe. But Eisenhower was more than just the coalition's chief soldier. He was also a statesman involved as deeply in arranging the political and diplomatic aspects of the alliance as the military. In the politico-military realm, he encountered the sorts of contentious international issues that could divide even friends and learned to mediate the conflicting demands of men and nations. In the process, he came personally to know the men who shaped the postwar world, leaders with whom he continued to deal as he became Army Chief of Staff in 1945, Commander in Chief of NATO forces in 1950, and President of the United States in 1953. (http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/ike/ike.htm)
Ike was my hero growing up and the more I read the more I admired the man. My brother and I on returning from a trip to the west when he was young, stopped to see Ike's boyhood home in Abeline, KS, just outside Salina. It was something I had wanted to visit from the day I first heard about it. It was on the 4th of July and a great time to remember such a great man.

 Dwight David, one of seven sons of David and Ida Eisenhower, was born 14 October 1890 in the little east Texas town of Denison. He grew up in Abilene, Kansas, where he absorbed the virtues of small town America that distinguished him the rest of his life-scrupulous honesty, self-reliance, determination, and hard work. Eisenhower, actively encouraged by his parents and brothers, saw education as a way to better himself and became as much of a scholar as he was an athlete. The balance between the two helped him obtain an appointment to the United States Military Academy in 1911.  (http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/ike/ike.htm)
Ike was from small town Middle America who went on to become the Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, a five star general, and a two-term President of the United States. That was not something he aspired to but he worked hard to rise through the ranks when there very few promotions as the world was at peace.

As the 1930s drew to a close, however, Eisenhower had no expectations of such lofty duties. In 1940, he finally attained the rank of colonel, the limit of his aspirations through the previous twenty-five years of service. During the 1920s and into the mid1930s, there seemed little chance of another war and thus little chance for distinction. Nonetheless, like many of his generation of officers, Eisenhower diligently studied his profession, preparing himself for jobs he had no realistic expectation of ever holding. It was in those dusty years of peace that much of his schooling as a decision-maker took place. (http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/ike/ike.htm)
With the release of this book and the memories it has brought back, it is time for Republicans to nominate someone from Middle America who grew up like most Americans in this part of the Country who with work and determination became successful. If I had my way, I would run General Tommy Franks, from Oklahoma, for President. His presence reminds me of Ike in so many ways.

If any member of my family is reading this, you can put this book at the top of my list.  For Christmas my oldest daughter bought me a book on the Personal Lives of the Founding Fathers which I enjoyed a lot and my youngest daughter bought me the book by President George W. Bush which I have found extremely interesting (about 1/3 through the book) since we lived in Texas when he was Governor and was involved with his campaign for President.   Highly recommend both of those books. 

A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969

By David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower

Simon & Schuster, 336pp., $28

David Eisenhower, grandson of the 34th president and author of the authoritative Eisenhower at War: 1943-1945 (1991), now publishes an informal memoir of Ike in his brief retirement. A more logical successor to the World War II account—Eisenhower’s postwar career and two-term presidency—might have been more welcome, but Going Home to Glory has its place in the canon. It is a measured, sympathetic, revealing account of the aging soldier-statesman by a grandson who, in his late childhood and adolescent years, clearly held some special place in the General’s affections.

By any reckoning, the last eight years of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s public life—stretching back three decades—were the least important. He handed the presidency, with some reluctance, off to John F. Kennedy instead of his own vice president, Richard Nixon, and grappled with the varying demands of titular political leadership, setting down the historical record, a changing cultural landscape, and declining health. But Eisenhower’s lifelong devotion to duty, now in elder statesmen’s robes, was not shirked in retirement: As readers of his diaries can attest, he retained a critical, perceptive, and well-informed interest in public affairs and, especially, in foreign policy; and his successors did not hesitate to seek his counsel or, in certain circumstances, wrap themselves in his protective mantle.

One theme which tends to dominate this volume is the awkward relations between Eisenhower and his immediate successor Kennedy, and it is not to Kennedy’s advantage. While Lyndon Johnson, as Senate Democratic Leader, had developed a friendly working relationship with the Republican President, Kennedy had paid little attention to the White House during his Senate tenure, and he and his inner circle—notably his brother Robert, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., McGeorge Bundy, and others—held Eisenhower in contempt. As is well known, Kennedy sought Eisenhower’s guidance after the Bay of Pigs debacle, and David Eisenhower’s meticulous account of their meeting and discussion is (whether intentionally or not) devastating to Kennedy. At Kennedy’s inauguration, Eisenhower had been forced to listen to JFK’s finely-worded generational insult to his predecessor and call to arms; at Camp David, Ike was astonished by the depths of Kennedy’s inexperience, ineptitude, and callow arrogance. The New Frontiersmen still thought little of the old General, but their boss had learned to shield himself with Eisenhower’s prestige.

Inevitably, age, ill health, and exile from the corridors of power took their toll, and Eisenhower was obliged to observe the 1960s at a distance: Distressed by American fecklessness in Europe and cynical strategy in Southeast Asia, the collapse of the postwar foreign policy consensus unfolded before his eyes, and he died at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. But his bookish grandson seems to have been something of a balm to him at the time, and between public events and physical deterioration, this portrait captures something of Eisenhower’s substance and humanity.

Source:  Weekly Standard
Note: Karl Rove's book, Courage and Consequence will be next up after I finish the one from President Bush which I wanted to read first.

Enjoy the weekend and if you love football, we have four playoff games in the NFL this weekend to extend the football season.

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