Wichita Eagle: Memorial Design Mocks Eisenhower’s Legacy

The people of Kansas are starting to learn just how offensive the Eisenhower Memorial is.  Brandon James Smith writes in the Wichita Eagle:

Eisenhower is, without a doubt, one of Kansas’ best-known citizens. . . .

But the current plans for the memorial are a postmodern monstrosity of enormous concrete pillars and steel tapestries lording over a small statue of Eisenhower as a barefoot child next to a backdrop of a desolate Kansas winter. Contrast this portrayal with the ever-watchful Lincoln, Jefferson as a stalwart of democracy, or Roosevelt, all found not far from the planned memorial site on the National Mall.

Eisenhower is portrayed as just dust in the wind. The monument mocks the heroic nature of Kansas’ most famous son – the leader who led us to defeat fascism and confront genocide, and who desegregated our schools.

In his first inaugural address, Eisenhower stated that “we are called as a people to give testimony in the sight of the world to our faith that our future shall belong to the free.” This monument does not testify to anything other than the ego of its designer.

The Eisenhower family is strongly opposed to the design. David Eisenhower, the family representative on the commission, resigned in protest.

Kansans should be ashamed that the executive architect and designer have been able to run wild with this design.

Our memorials are not just tourist attractions; they are representative of the values of our culture. Long after those memorialized fade from public life, their values and sacrifices live on to remind future generations of the past. Imagine a world where Lincoln did not sit watching over the Union with the Gettysburg Address etched in marble next to him, or where the Washington Monument did not tower over the capital, reminding us of the nation’s first struggle for liberty.

Fortunately, Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran are in a position to do something, as is the rest of the Kansas congressional delegation. We ought to raise our voices.

Though the political battles of the day are important and dominate the news cycle, national memorials represent who we are as a nation. We ought to take the time to ensure they represent the best aspects of our society.

Long after the 2012 election cycle, will a monstrosity sit along the National Mall mocking a great Kansan? Or will it represent what we Kansans have known all along – that freedom, duty, service, sacrifice, the rule of law, justice and hard work are the core essence of a better future?

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