Death of President Eisenhower 

Death of President Eisenhower 

U.S. #1383 was issued five months after Eisenhower’s death on what would have been his 79th birthday.

Born October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas, Dwight David Eisenhower was the third of seven sons. He was named David Dwight originally, but his mother later reversed the order of his first and middle names to avoid confusion with his father. All the sons were nicknamed Ike, but only Dwight kept the name through adulthood.

When Dwight was two years old, the family moved from Texas to Abilene, Kansas, the town Eisenhower considered home. After graduating from high school in 1909, Eisenhower began working at a creamery to pay for college. When he discovered he could attend West Point Military Academy for free, he applied and was accepted.

Eisenhower enjoyed the traditions of the military academy and the opportunity to play sports. Academics proved more challenging, but he graduated in the middle of the class of 1915. Eisenhower and his fellow graduates have been called “the class the stars fell on” because 59 members became generals.

U.S. #1393 – Eisenhower was honored on this Regular Issue stamp.

Lieutenant Eisenhower began his military service in Texas. While there, he met Mamie Doud and they were married on July 1, 1916. When America entered World War I, Eisenhower hoped to get an overseas assignment, but remained stateside. Despite not participating in combat, Eisenhower’s experience as an organizer and leader would serve him well in the future. After the war, Ike was promoted to major and worked with tank units, as he had during the conflict.

Eisenhower finally got his chance to experience combat when the U.S. entered World War II. In June 1942, he was sent to London to command the European theater. The following November he led Operation Torch, which pushed the Axis powers out of North Africa and cleared the way for the invasion of Italy.

U.S. #1393bs – 1970 Eisenhower First Day Cover.

Now a four-star general, Eisenhower was appointed supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. In this role he planned Operation Overlord, which was intended to free Western Europe from the Nazis. The invasion of Normandy was key to the success of the rest of the campaign and the eventual surrender of Germany.

Eisenhower returned to the U.S. after serving as the military governor of the U.S. occupation zone in Germany. In 1948, he became president of New York’s Columbia University. However, he was absent for much of his tenure, serving as the supreme commander of the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In an effort to stop the growing influence of the USSR, NATO military forces were formed in Europe with Eisenhower in command. He held this position until he retired from active military service in 1952. He then returned to Columbia to resume his responsibilities as president of the university.

U.S. #1395 – 1971 Eisenhower Regular Issue stamp.

The newly retired major soon became a candidate for U.S. President. At 62, he would be the oldest man to be elected to the office. Though he had not aligned himself with any political party in the past, Ike declared himself a Republican. After winning the Republican bid, Eisenhower campaigned with the slogan “I Like Ike.” He promised to go to Korea and end the war, stop the spread of the Soviet Union’s influence, and clean up the government. In November 1952, Eisenhower defeated Democratic opponent Adlai Stevenson to become the first Republican in the White House in 20 years.

Shortly after winning the election, Ike fulfilled a campaign promise and visited Korea. The Korean War had already cost 33,629 American lives, and 103,284 had been wounded – yet no settlement was in sight. As President, Eisenhower threatened China with increased force and the possibility of nuclear attack.

Peace negotiations in Korea began to make progress, and the communists accepted the United Nations’ proposals. An exchange of sick and injured prisoners of war was held to show good faith. Eisenhower changed America’s political rhetoric by accepting a limited victory in Korea. The armistice that brought an end to the terrible fighting in Korea was signed July 27, 1953.

U.S. #2219g – 1986 Eisenhower First Day Cover.

In an effort to slow the nuclear arms race, Eisenhower brought forth the idea of using atomic energy for peaceful means in a speech before the United Nations. The entire world was captivated by the proposal. Soviet ambassadors met with U.S. officials in Washington D.C. and at a “Big Four” meeting in January. As a result, the International Atomic Energy Agency was created.

Since his work on the Transcontinental Motor Convoy in 1919, Eisenhower knew America needed a better highway system. During the Cold War, the necessity became more pressing. As President, he supported the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which funded an interstate highway system. Ike felt it would provide more efficient evacuation routes in case of attack and better access for the military.

When Eisenhower was elected, he considered serving only one term. Because of his popularity, the Republicans convinced him to run for a second term. Once again, Eisenhower faced Adlai Stevenson and won the 1956 election by a greater margin than the previous time. During his second term, Ike faced domestic issues in addition to international conflicts.

Eisenhower favored a logical, step-by-step process for eliminating racial discrimination in America. He had completed the integration of the military that began during Truman’s administration. The cautious approach had to be set aside due to a crisis in Arkansas. In September 1957, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus defied a federal court order to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Faubus even ordered the state’s National Guard to prevent black students from entering the school. Eisenhower reacted swiftly by placing the National Guard under federal control, then sending a regular Army unit, the 101st Airborne Division, to enforce the court order. The President then addressed the nation on TV stating that he had acted to prevent further civil disorder.

The spotlight was taken off domestic issues when the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, on October 4, 1957. A larger satellite, Sputnik II, which carried a dog, was launched on November 3, 1957. The American public was shocked by this display of superior Soviet technology. These advancements were taken as a sign that the Soviets might have the technology to use long-range missiles to hit the United States with nuclear weapons.

U.S. #2513 – Issued for Ike’s 100th birthday, this stamp shows him as a WWII general plus his official White House portrait.

Eisenhower reacted by supporting two expensive plans that went against his usual cost-cutting beliefs: a program to catch up with the Soviets in space technology, and a federal assistance program to support science education. Soon America’s space program enjoyed its first success; on January 31, 1958, the U.S. satellite Explorer I was placed into orbit.

Ike left office in January 1961, the first President required by the 22nd Amendment to leave office after two terms. Although his administration had been heavily criticized, Ike was still very popular with the American people. When he left office, Congress restored him to his rank of general in the army. He retired to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. There he devoted himself to raising cattle and writing his memoirs – of which there were three. After suffering a series of heart attacks, Eisenhower died of heart failure on March 28, 1969. He was buried in Abilene, Kansas. A library housing his papers was opened a short time later there.

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20 responses to "Death of President Eisenhower "

20 thoughts on “Death of President Eisenhower ”

  1. At the time of Eisenhower’s election in 1952, William Henry Harrison was the oldest man to become president at 68 years of age. That “record” stood until Regan was inaugurated at 69 years of age.

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  2. A great military man and a great leader as President. Too bad someone with Ike’s credentials isn’t around as a candidate for President this year.

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  3. A little more research would show Ike was not alone in the planning. I’m certain a guy named Churchill and other were involved.

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    • Ike and Churchill never seen eye to eye. Churchill was against operation “Overlord”.
      He continued to be haunted by the tragedy and horrors of WWI. After much disagreement, Mr. Churchill conceded to the plan. Normandy, as we all know, was successful in the Allied effort to push the Nazi’s out of France.
      Keep history alive!

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  4. Eisenhower was promoted to four star over many senior Generals and given
    overall command of the allied forces much to the chagrin of General
    Montgomery, who thought incorrectly that he was much more qualified.
    The British promoted him to Field Marshall to get him that command because
    a Field Marshall out ranks a four star General (actually Colonel-General in
    the British and other European General officers ranks) so the U.S. designated
    a new rank 5-star General of the Army and Fleet Admiral to counter this.
    Eisenhower was the perfect man for the job. He had to hold together a coalition
    of diverse national armies, the British, U.S. and especially the French whose
    arrogance (especially DeGaulle) was apparent from the beginning thinking their
    Generals were the best (even though their Generals were such poor leaders
    that Germany overran them in five weeks in 1940). This took a leader who
    was diplomatic and would sometimes go against the better plans of Patton
    and his other American Generals just to appease primadonas like Montgomery
    and DeGaulle . It there ever was a right man for the right job it was him.

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  5. If it weren’t for the outstanding American leadership during that time, my family would not have survived World War II. General Eisenhower deserves my deepest respect and was one of the best presidents in the last century.

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  6. Much of what Pres. Eisenhower accomplished was not appreciated until long after his administration was over. From someone who was a child during the cold war, saw Sputnick fly-by, lived next door to someone who had a fallout shelter in their basement and remembers Khruschev’s promise, I became thankful that he was president when he was, not to mention his command in WWll . I liked Ike. Nice article Mystic. Excellent facts and commentary Kenneth Snyder.

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  7. I grew up during the Eisenhower administations. What a wonderful man. A great general and citizen. I wish politicians of today had his thoughtfulness and his civilty.

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  8. His accomplishments as President are viewed more favorably by historians today than they were at the end of his tenure, and rightfully so. For instance, he for one recognized that there were limits to American power, a fact which seems to have gone unrecognized by some of his successors who seem to think that all we have to do is kick ass and take names. One other irony is that he probably would not stand a chance of being the nominee of today’s Republican party.

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  9. Here are a couple of memorable quotes from Dwight D. Eisenhower that are worth pondering.
    “The Republican Party must be known as a progressive organization or it is sunk. Far from appeasing or reasoning with the dyed-in-the-wool reactionary fringe, we should repudiate it. Their thinking is completely uncoordinated with the times in which we live.”
    “Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The cost of one heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more that 30 cities. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

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  10. As usual a great article. A few notes. On 30Apr43 General Ike received the permanent rank of Major General (not Major). On 11Apr46 he receive the permanent rank of General of the Army. So when he retired to ruin for the Presendency he was in fact a retired General of the Army, and not Major General and it is sometime stated.
    He retired from active duty twice, once in 1948 to take the presidency of Columia University and once, (after being recalled to active duty to run NATO) in May 1952 to seek the Republican Nomination. After winning the nomination, he resigned from the ARmyin July 1952 to
    In 1961 at the instigation of the newly elected John F. Kennedy, the Democrat led Congress restored him to his permanent rank of General of the Army. This, and President Reagan’s sending former President Carter to bring the Iran Hostages home, are examples of why I am proud to be an American. In today’s political climate, it’s hard to see such grace notes occurring again.

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  11. Ike makes the republicans (note small “R”) of today look like the obstructionist schnooks they are. They have forgotten the warnings from perhaps the greatest soldier even to hold the office to limit the connection between business and the military. I think he was not only one of the most pragmatic and intelligent persons ever to hold the office, and at my age of 73 the one with the most integrity and caring about his fellow citizens. And I have been a progressive most of my life!!

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    • The people who believe this myth of a threat from industry and our American armed forces have not seen the real US budgets nor percentage of GDP spent on national defense. It is alarming that in the middle of an ongoing war with Islamic terrorists and fanatic militant Armies much larger than our own with growing threats from North Korea, Iran, a resurgent aggressive Russia, and expanding modernized Chinese armed forces, we have the smallest US Army since before WWII. Most Americans take for granted the defense of our nation and execution of US foreign policy commanded by the President and supported by Congress is in the hands a very small number of dedicated professionals most of whom are actually the sons and daughters of Veterans. Industry only provides materiel to meet requirements generated by the Combatant Commanders who have regional responsibilities which must be approved by the President and funded by Congress. It typically takes 7-12 years to develop and field a new weapon and the Combatant Commanders change about every 3 years – so the integrity of the system is preserved regardless of and personal preferences they may have for any particular materiel solution to the gap in required capabilities. Meanwhile our enemies are boosted by the same technology (often stollen from American industry and universities) and do not have the same bureaucratic checks and balances to hinder and slow that process. So don’t think defense industry runs the train; multiply studies done by the Congressional watchdog GAO over the past 60 years prove that those industries only average 6% profit while most commercial business consider a 25% profit to be the lower limit to continue obtaining loans from banks to stay in business. One last point, during Ike’s administration the US was locked in an arms race with the Soviet Union and nuclear weapons were very expensive to produce, secure, and delivery systems (strategic bombers, ICBM missiles, and nuclear attack submarines and aircraft carriers) were extremely expensive to design, build, operate, man, and maintain. You cannot compare that massive USAF and Navy and 3 ill ion man Army and Marine force with today’s small fully engaged armed forces.

      Reply
  12. An informing and detailed background on President Dwight Eisenhower … a Great American General and Great U.S. President. He indeed was a very smart man and did the best he could for his Country over his lifetime .. and, for the most part, was absolutely right and successful with his decisions in leadership !!

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  13. I remember reading years ago, that the highways and ‘freeways’ found throughout the United States; were in fact the result of a need to be able to move military hardware and equipment in an efficient and rapid means.
    Such was the brainchild of Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. His last name is German, and it translate to: Steel Forger. ‘Eisen’ is German for: Steel. A side note. In the miniseries: Ike, the War Years, Kate Summersby asked, when she hears the name, ‘Eisenhower’: “Is he on our side?” Eisenhower is played by: Robert Duvall. He; Eisenhower, also spent time in the Philippines, during Manuel Quezon’s term as President.

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