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Archive for Thursday, May 2, 2013

Leader of Eisenhower memorial effort discusses embattled plans in talk at Dole Institute

Dole Institute director Bill Lacy, left, interviews Retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel  at the Dole Institute of Politics Thursday evening during one of the presentations that are part of the 2013 Dole Lecture Series. Reddel spoke about Dwight Eisenhower's legacy.

Dole Institute director Bill Lacy, left, interviews Retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel at the Dole Institute of Politics Thursday evening during one of the presentations that are part of the 2013 Dole Lecture Series. Reddel spoke about Dwight Eisenhower's legacy.

May 2, 2013

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This model image, provided by Eisenhower Memorial Commission, shows the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial to be built in Washington. Architect Frank Gehry's plan for the memorial has encountered much resistance, including from members of the Eisenhower family.

This model image, provided by Eisenhower Memorial Commission, shows the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial to be built in Washington. Architect Frank Gehry's plan for the memorial has encountered much resistance, including from members of the Eisenhower family.

A photo taken of a model of the Eisenhower memorial shows an urban park surrounded by a number of different agencies that Dwight Eisenhower helped create. Members of Eisenhower’s family and others want a simpler design.

A photo taken of a model of the Eisenhower memorial shows an urban park surrounded by a number of different agencies that Dwight Eisenhower helped create. Members of Eisenhower’s family and others want a simpler design.

A proposed memorial to Dwight Eisenhower would bring a bit of Kansas to the nation’s capital while celebrating the Abilene native’s remarkable success as a general and a president, the leader of the effort said Thursday in Lawrence.

Retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel, executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, also acknowledged the road has been rocky at times for the embattled monument plans. But, he said, “Ike” deserves proper recognition for his achievements, and soon.

“It’s about time we do this,” Reddel said during the 2013 Dole Lecture at the Dole Institute of Politics on Thursday. Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy interviewed him about Eisenhower and the effort to memorialize him.

Lacy asked Reddel, who began researching Eisenhower as a specialist on Russian studies for the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War, whether his military exploits or his political career was more impressive. Reddel said he couldn’t answer: Eisenhower deftly balanced security and freedom as both general and president, he said, in a way that the nation might appreciate today.

“What is most amazing to me is how these two worlds came together in a single lifetime of citizenship and public service,” Reddel said.

And the proposed memorial, to be located just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C., would focus on both those legacies, he said. But it has also been the target of a barrage of criticism during the last two years, from people ranging from lawmakers to members of the Eisenhower family.

The Memorial Commission was authorized by Congress in 1999, and Reddel joined the effort in 2001. The 12-person commission, which currently contains both U.S. senators from Kansas, chose architect Frank Gehry to design the planned memorial, estimated to cost $142 million.

Reddel on Thursday went over the plans, which call for an “urban park” near a number of federal agencies that Eisenhower helped create. A view of the U.S. Capitol would be framed by steel tapestries that he said would evoke the landscape of Kansas and by trees native to Kansas. At the center would be the actual memorial: Two 26-foot-tall stone blocks, each with a nine-foot-tall bronze statue in front, representing Eisenhower’s achievements as a general and as a president.

Also there would be a life-sized statue of a young Eisenhower, with both his destinies within his field of vision.

Along with an emphasis on both his careers, Reddell said, Eisenhower’s Kansas roots were important to the designer.

“He believes that the landscape of the heartland is a metaphor for America itself, and a big part of what Eisenhower was about,” Reddel said.

But those tapestries evoking those roots are also a sticking point between Gehry and members of the Eisenhower family who’ve called for a simpler design, Reddel said. They sent that message at a congressional hearing on the memorial in March, where they and some lawmakers called for the plans to be scrapped and for a new open design competition to begin.

“In true bipartisan spirit, almost everyone hates it,” read a “New Yorker” article following the hearing.

Lacy asked Reddel if he wished the commission had done anything different. He said he wished the group had avoided the controversy, but he wasn’t sure how that would have been done, saying the commission had consulted the Eisenhower family from the beginning.

“Having the president’s grandson and members of the Eisenhower family at 13 of our 16 commission meetings, we felt, was a sincere effort in that direction,” Reddel said.

The effort has been delayed since Eisenhower’s grandson, David, resigned from the commission in December 2011, Reddel said. He said he hoped the memorial comes to fruition soon, though he noted that the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial in Washington was in the works for more than 40 years.

He recalled a meeting he had with the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had served as vice chairman of the commission, before his death. Inouye had lamented how little Americans know about the War of 1812, a turning point in the nation’s history, and said he worried that unless “Ike” was memorialized soon, he might be similarly forgotten.

Reddel said he hoped not to let that happen.

“We have to be as mindful as possible of the great and poor leadership we’ve had at different times in our history,” he said.

Comments

Phoghorn 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Comparing political opponents with Hitler, the Taliban, Pol Pot, Chaiman Mao, etc is a disgusting practice. I have disagreements with both parties, but neither of them is establishing killing fields, death chambers, or conducting mass killings of "infidels".

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formerfarmer 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The Eisenhower family needs to back off. They are not building the memorial, it is being built by a grateful nation. I am sure Abraham Lincoln would say his memorial was to gaudy if he could see it himself.

"The commission's plan was questioned. Many thought that architect Henry Bacon's Greek temple design was far too ostentatious for a man of Lincoln's humble character. Instead they proposed a simple log cabin shrine." Wikopedia quote.

Eisenhower's library in Abilene expresses his simple upbringing. Simple design in his simple hometown. But a tour inside the museum says much more.

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oldbaldguy 11 months, 2 weeks ago

We need someone like the General today on the national scene. Some thought Petraeus would be the guy.

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Michael LoBurgio 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The founder of the John Birch Society was a guy named Welch. Fred Koch, the founder of Koch Industries was a charter member of the John Birch Society.

Welch, the founder, hated President Eisenhower and considered him a communist tool. This caused Bill Buckley and many conservatives to disavow the John Birchers. In short, the Koch brothers are heirs to the "Eisenhower was a communist tool" school of thought that their Dad was a part of.

So, this dislike of moderate Republicans like Dole, Eisenhower, Kassebaum, Bill Graves, etc. is nothing new.

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JohnBrown 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It would be good for Republicans to remember who they were. To quote Faulkner:

"... one generation more until that innocent and outrageous belief that courage and honor are practical has had time to fade and cool so that merely the habit of courage and honor remain."

But perhaps the know-nothings and the Kansas Taliban have already taken the once venerated Party of Lincoln too far down their nay-saying path.

JohnBrown

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Lynn731 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The Eisenhower family should decide and approve what type of memorial is built for "Ike".

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