Today, June 6th, 2014, marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. There have been many commemorations and festivities to mark this occasion, and all have undoubtedly included reverence to General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
DDE (because typing Eisenhower repeatedly is just asking for typos!) would later go on to become the 34th President of the United States, but before the wars and the Oval Office, he was just a small town boy. His boyhood home is in Abilene, Kansas…and that’s just about 45 miles from where I live! His Presidential Library is there, as well as his final resting place, and the museum always has interesting exhibits, both traveling and permanent. The link below is for the Library’s homepage, where much of my research came from!
DDE, known by the nickname of “Ike”, was born October 14th, 1890 in Denison, Texas. In 1892, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas. Ike was a good student, especially interested in history, and his mother would sometimes lock his school books up until he finished his neglected chores! He was also talented at sports, particularly baseball and football, but he also boxed, fished, hunted, trapped, camped, and liked to play poker. Abilene schools were integrated…”but when some of his football teammates refused to line up opposite a visiting African American player, Eisenhower volunteered for the position, and shook the player’s hand after the game. As a boy from the wrong side of Abilene’s class-dividing tracks, Ike knew the minimizing indecencies of prejudice all too well.”
Ike graduated from Abilene High School in 1909 and worked for 2 years at a local Creamery, 7 days a week, 6pm-6am. In June of 1911, he entered The United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. 4 years later, in 1915, he graduated West Point , a Second Lieutenant. In 1916 he married his wife Mamie, and they had 2 children, losing one at 4 years old to Scarlet Fever. Ike went on to his amazing military career, and after retiring in 1952, ran for President that same year.
Following 2 terms, from 1953 to 1961, he was returned to active duty in the Army, by a law signed by new President John F. Kennedy. Once again a 5-star General, he kept an office at Gettysburg College and lived on a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania until his death on March 28th, 1969. Dwight David Eisenhower made one final visit to Abilene, Kansas on April 2nd, 1969…to be buried in the “Place of Meditation” at the Eisenhower Center and Presidential Library. He is laid to rest alongside his wife Mamie (1979) and his first son, Doud.
The link below is for the entire Chronology of Ike’s life, including all of his military postings.
“The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower, reflecting on his life.