Louis Galambos: Dwight Eisenhower, Quiet Radical





Mr. Galambos, professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and an editor of The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, is the author of The Creative Society—and the Price Americans Paid for It (Cambridge, 2012).

The effort to memorialize Dwight Eisenhower in Washington has stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy. The design by architect Frank Gehry includes a formidable metal tapestry devoted to the Abilene, Kan., countryside where the 34th president spent his childhood. There are also plans for a statue of young Ike, positioned between two very large stone blocks devoted to the presidency and the distinguished military career of the man who led the Allied forces to victory in World War II.
 
Those opposed to Mr. Gehry's design seem to prefer something traditional and neoclassical, along the lines of existing monuments in the nation's capital.
 
The debate is as much over Eisenhower's role in history as it is over an innovation in Washington architecture. Was Ike essentially a traditionalist, a stodgy staff-man, a Republican president who wanted to return America to a golden age of small towns and honest folk who wore proper hats? Or was he an agent of change who embraced modern technology and worked quietly and efficiently to bring the country into a new and challenging international role?..


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