Kearney Hub (of Nebraska) Rejects Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Design

The Kearney Hub of Nebraska editorializes:

Ike earned his memorial, but make it fit the man

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 2:30 pm | Updated: 8:44 pm, Sun Apr 29, 2012.

We don’t claim to be culturally deft, but we do have a sense for the accomplishments of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II and then led the United States through the initial years of the Cold War against communism.

Neither of Eisenhower’s achievements was simple or easy. Both required commitment, focus and courage of the highest order. Knowing what we do about the man, we find it strange that a memorial to “Ike” planned near the National Mall in Washington, D.C., won’t capture any of those qualities.

The idea is to depict Eisenhower as a barefoot boy, reclined on his native Kansas Prairie and daydreaming.

We are grateful to Kansas for producing the likes of Ike, but presidents and war heroes should not be depicted as boys. Rather, a fitting monument would capture Eisenhower’s strength of body and mind.

If it were true to his humble character, it wouldn’t span the equivalent of four football fields, as celebrity architect Frank Gehry envisions with his lavish, space-eating design.

We can appreciate Gehry’s desire to do something on a grand scale, but he’s picked the wrong subject for four acres of rolling concrete. Eisenhower led men. He led a nation. He led troops from around the world.

And after he had won WWII, he led the United States and the Free World through the anxious, nervous days at the dawn of the nuclear age. A sculpture of a barefoot boy just isn’t the image that Eisenhower’s accomplishments elicit.

Eisenhower won’t be the last war hero or president worthy of a remembrance. Why expend so much precious space near the Mall when in just a generation or so we will be ready to honor another great American and will need the space to do so?

Fewer than 15 years ago when Americans were debating the best way to memorialize the U.S. service men and women who fought World War II, some observers asked whether expending so much space for the WWII Memorial could be justified.

Of course it could be justified. The memorial represents millions who contributed to victory, as opposed to a memorial to honor just one American. Ike commanded respect. His memorial need not command four acres of real estate.

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