There are 100 statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol, two from each state. When I first learned about these statues, I was curious. I wanted to know more about who inspired the statues. Why should we remember these individuals and their accomplishments? I decided to start a series of posts to share what I discover in a blog series “Statues: The People They Salute.” I hope I sparked your curiosity.
This week is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, so I wanted to share the post about Dwight D. Eisenhower, the subject of one of the two statues donated to the collection by Kansas.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower was a major planner of that epic event that changed the course of World War II. Thousands of lives were lost, but evil was attacked by waves of brave men that rolled onto the beaches at Normandy.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Five-Star General in World War II, he married a woman named Mamie, and he was elected President of the United States. His farewell address when he left the presidency included a warning about the military-industrial complex. That is what I know about Dwight D. Eisenhower, before I dig a bit deeper for this post. Oh, and the “D” is for David. That brings this to my mind. What did the “D” in D-Day stand for? Perhaps Dwight, or David? David makes sense to me and also brings to my mind the battle between David and Goliath. D-Day was an effort to take down another giant evil, a Goliath, if you will.
However, as I begin my research, I find that according to the National World War II Museum, the “D” in D-Day simply stands for “day” and was a code designation, as H is a code designation for” hour”. The name for the Allied Invasion of Normandy was “Operation Overlord”, the Normandy landing on June 6, 1944 was called “Operation Neptune”.
Now I will share some of what I have discovered about the subject of this statue…
Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military background and leadership successes, no doubt, contributed to his being elected the 34th President of the United States in 1952. He was again elected in 1956.
As president, Eisenhower had championed and signed the authorization of the Interstate Highway System in 1956. He authorized the establishment of NASA, after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957.
In 1957, when the Governor of Arkansas used Arkansas National Guardsmen to prevent black students from attending a high school in Little Rock, President Eisenhower sent in federal troops to enforce the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that made segregation in public schools illegal. “Separate facilities are inherently unequal,” and the “separate but equal” doctrine would no longer be used in public schools.
President Eisenhower had the opportunity to appointed five Justices to the Supreme Court during his two terms as president, all were pro-civil rights. He also appointed many pro-civil rights judges to the lower courts and built a congressional coalition that passed the first civil rights act in eighty-two years.
Two states, Hawaii and Alaska, were added to the United States of America in 1959, bringing the total to 50.
This is a passage from the White House website about President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Negotiating from military strength, he tried to reduce the strains of the Cold War. In 1953, the signing of a truce brought an armed peace along the border of South Korea.
These two lines were part of President Eisenhower’s first Inaugural Address given on January 20, 1953…
“For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.” , and
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
I believe these sentiments held true yesterday, they hold true today, and they will hold true tomorrow.
Dwight D. Eisenhower died March 28, 1969. He chose to be buried in the $80 Government issue casket, wearing his World War II uniform, part of which was the green “Ike” jacket he had made famous.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”. Read more in her series Statues: The People They Salute by clicking here Table of Contents and visiting the Facebook Page.