We were filled with pride, excitement and anticipation this week as ground was broken for the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial in Washington, D.C.
We’ve waited for years for this moment and navigated through some difficult circumstances as the memorial was designed, but this was a day to celebrate, for Kansas and our entire country.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday morning for a project that is estimated to cost about $145 million.
Eisenhower was our nation’s 34th president, who served as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II. He was from Abilene.
The memorial will be much more than a statue or monument. It will be a four-acre park near the National Mall at the base of Capitol Hill. It will be surrounded by the Department of Education, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Voice of America and the Department of Health and Human Services, all of which are tied to Eisenhower’s legacy.
Eisenhower will be among a select few presidents honored with memorials in Washington, D.C.: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The memorial will include sculptures depicting Eisenhower as a young man in Abilene, as the Supreme Allied Commander and as president. It will also include a tapestry showing a now peaceful image of the D-Day beaches of Normandy, France.
Eisenhower commanded the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, a battle that led to the end to World War II in Europe.
The target date for the memorial park to open is May 8, 2020, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts was key in helping the memorial become a reality. He is chairman of the memorial board and helped arrange funding, among other things.
“Most of all, the memorial gives Kansas’ favorite son a place of recognition,” Roberts wrote in a column in Thursday’s Eagle. “A place for all Americans present and future to know Eisenhower. A place for the world to know our American values.”
Eisenhower famously said in his “Homecoming Speech” in 1945 that “the proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.”
We are proud Eisenhower was from Kansas. We are proud of his accomplishments in the military and in politics and for the indelible marks he left on our nation and the world.
We will swell further with pride when the memorial honoring Eisenhower opens, allowing even more people to learn of his legacy and his roots in Kansas.