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Published: July 16th 2014
Today's itinerary was simple, but cry important for me personally: we simply toured the Eisenhower Museum, Library, and boyhood home in Abilene KS and then returned home.
As a student of World War II, and particularly the European Theater of Operations, I have long held Eisenhower as a hero. I am not sure that anyone else could have done the job he did in keeping together the alliance that defeated Nazi Germany. It should be remembered that alliance forces are rarely fully successful, mostly because the alliance are generally fragile and the egos and agendas of the individual participant nations usually rule the day. Ike never let that happen while Supreme Commander of SHAEF. It has been said that his knowledge of military tactics was lacking, and I will leave that discussion to those who know more than I do. What is clear, however, is that he excelled in forging and maintaining a team of strong egos into the most effective fighting force the world has yet seen (and hopefully ever will see). From North Africa, through Sicily and the early stages of the Italian campaign, and then through the largest amphibious assault of all time and final
victory in May 1945, 11 months after D-Day, he commanded a total of 5,412,219 men (well, some were women, although not large numbers), 970.044 vehicles, 8 tactical air commands, and two strategic air forces. The United States suffered 586,628 casualties, with 135, 576 deaths. He death on almost a daily basis with Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and less often Josef Stalin, and had the confidence of them all. After a sojourn as governor of occupied Germany, he returned home to become president of Columbia University, first head of NATO, and then President of the United States for two terms, during which he was forced to use troops in Little Rock to enforce Brown v. Board, started the Interstate Highway system that bears his name, pushed for peace flu uses of atomic energy, and integrated the Armed Services. Although widely criticized for years as a do-nothing president, in recent years his role has been re-examined and he is widely now considered one of the 10 best presidents.
The grounds include the Eisenhower Presidential Library, the Museum which actually started during his life as mostly a military museum, his boyhood home in its original location on the wrong side of the
tracks, and the Chapel where Ike and Mamie, as well as their sone who died of scarlet fever at age 3, are all buried.
We spent a long time in the Museum, particularly in the sections dealing with World War II, where the events and timetable are presented in highly approachable ways. We could have spent all day there, but home beckoned.
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