“I come from the very heart of America.” – Dwight Eisenhower, June 12, 1945
At a time when the world fought to overcome tyranny, he helped lead the course to victory as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. When our nation needed a leader, he upheld the torch of liberty as our 34th president. As a new memorial is unveiled, now is the time for us to meet Dwight David Eisenhower.
An opportunity to get to know this man can be found at the newly unveiled Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC, and the all-new exhibits in the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas. Each site in its own way tells the story of a humble man who grew up in small-town America and became the leader of the free world.
The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is a 22-acre campus which includes several buildings where visitors can interact with the life of this president. Starting with the Boyhood Home, guests discover the early years of Eisenhower as he avidly read history books, played sports, and learned lessons of faith and leadership. The library building houses the documents of his administration. With more than 26 million pages and 350,000 images, researchers can explore the career of a 40+-year public servant. The 25,000 square feet of all-new exhibits located in the museum building is where visitors get to meet Ike and Mamie again…for the first time. Using NARA’s holdings, guests gain insight into the life and times of President Eisenhower. Finally, visitors can be reflective in the Place of Meditation where Eisenhower rests beside his first-born son, Doud, and his beloved wife Mamie. A true encapsulation of his life.
The updated gallery spaces were opened in 2019. The exhibition includes many historic objects from our holdings which highlight Eisenhower’s career through the military years and into the White House. Showcased items include Ike’s West Point letterman’s sweater, the D-Day Planning Table, Soviet lunasphere, and letters related to the Crisis at Little Rock. Several new films and interactives have been added throughout the exhibit including a D-Day film using newly digitized footage from the archives.
In addition to facts and quotes, visitors will leave with an understanding of how his experiences made Ike the perfect candidate for Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and the 34th President of the United States.
The Eisenhower Memorial, which opened to the public on September 18, is located at an important historical corridor in Washington, DC. The 4-acre urban memorial park is surrounded by four buildings housing institutions that were formed during the Eisenhower Administration and was designed by award-winning architect, Frank Gehry. In 2011, the National Archives hosted Frank Gehry and his collaborator, theater artist Robert Wilson in a discussion about the creation of the Eisenhower National Memorial.
As part of the creative process, Gehry’s team visited the Eisenhower Presidential Library and drew inspiration from the campus. They also used the holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library to form the plans for the memorial itself. This also led to the development of online educational programs which will have a continued life through the Eisenhower Foundation. Visitors to both sites will learn lasting lessons from President Eisenhower’s life of public service.