Eisenhower’s granddaughters critical of Gehry’s design

On December 16, the following article appeared in the Washington Post outlining Susan and Anne Eisenhower’s opposition to the proposed design of the Eisenhower Memorial.

You can find the article in its entirety here.

6 thoughts on “Eisenhower’s granddaughters critical of Gehry’s design

  1. I am in complete support the Eisenhower family’s objections to the proposed design of the Eisenhower Memorial. I only wish they would have intervened earlier. I was also a bit confused, because I attended a reception in Washington for the architect, hosted by Susan Eisenhower, a few years ago. I would have thought, therefore, that the family had approved of the design.

    To me, in addition to his role in winning World War II, he made critical decisions as President, that have greatly influenced history, since his presidency. One, was his firm stand on avoiding a war in the Middle East, during the Suez crisis. The other, was his policy–perhaps surprising for a General–to take the two most important technical advances of World War II and create around them CIVILIAN agencies–the Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Aeronautics & Space Administration. Making nuclear power and space technology available “for all mankind” created the basis for most of the real economic growth in the U.S. economy, since that time.

    Finally, among the quotes that could be usefully reproduced in an Eisenhower Memorial, such as his most famous warning about the “military-industrial complex,” is the quote on the outside wall near the 15th Street entrance to the Holocuast Memorial Museum. This is one of the most moving, and prescient, quotes in the entire Museum.

    Marsha Freeman

  2. In answer to your question: the reason the family did not intervene earlier is that we thought the design was a work in progress. We did not realize that it was on a “fast track” for approval. We had raised our concerns earlier but understood that immediate action had to be taken to buy more time for the design and conceptual work. In the process we learned many new things, which we have tried to bring to public attention.

  3. As with, I would guess, many other Americans, my likely-hood ever getting to Abilene to see a boyhood memorial to President Eisenhower is practically nil. I see no reason that the great heights the President attained can not contrasted with his humble boyhood, in Washington, D.C. I can think of nothing more poignant or appropriate than showing, in one place, Ike as boy, and as Commanding General amid his men at D-day, and as President. It sends shivers down my spine just typing it. What an extraordinary example, made plain, of the American ideal and your Grandfather’s story. And, it certainly would be a great message for kids, especially if some of the memorial were life-sized and made accessible to the young ones. Is the family opposed to the barefoot boy image entirely? If so, why please?

    Like Ms. Freeman, I think the President’s warning of the military-industrial complex was particularly prescient and hope it will be included. It also gives a nice symmetry to the memorial, in showing the President as forward looking, as well as reflective.

    Personally, I think you need to more firmly and publicly distance your family from the incendiary and libelous attacks being made against the artists. Opponents are using your family’s statements, and unfounded personal attacks on the artists, to bolster their very weak aesthetic arguments against the monument. You are right to label it a culture war, much of the “anti” forces are not concerned with remembering Ike in this battle, but have their own private agendas.

    Last, and I sincerely mean this not to be as snide as it might sound; but if you are going to be giving the task to the statue in Abilene, as doing all that is necessary to remember the “barefoot boy”, oughtn’t he not be wearing shoes? Did the family have approval rights over the Abilene remembrance?


  4. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. My blog is intended to underscore that the Eisenhower family speaks for itself. Though we have said it countless times to the news media, this blog is the only truly direct way to make the point.

  5. I thank the Eisenhower family for their good taste and common sense regarding the present grandiose and inappropriate Eisenhower memorial proposal. There is no reason to break with tradition concerning this monument. It was FDR who set the tone for monuments of his generation, with the Jefferson Memorial, when he too, had a difficult decision. He made the right choice, and his memorial at Hyde Park is so remarkably understated and simple, it should be indication that this one is just flat wrong.

    It also strikes me that there’s a great disconnect with the WW II Memorial not that far away. Why should it be deemed appropriate to choose for Ike a design so utterly and completely at odds with the memorial for so many the men he led? It just doesn’t make sense.

    I wish you well in your efforts to find the proper expression for a man who contributed so much to the justice and peace of the world.

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