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I Like Ike: Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

This year would have been my parents' 50th anniversary if my dad was still living. So in his honor, we planned a road trip around things my mom would love. Some of her favorite places to visit are Presidential Libraries and Museums. She's been to 7 out of 13 on the list, and we've now been to 5 of those 7 with her. The museums are incredible sources of interactive history. So this road trip we're adding four more to our list!

Presidential Libraries & Museums

The official Presidential Library system began when President Franklin Roosevelt donated all of his presidential papers to the Federal Government. He believed that the papers belonged to the people and felt that their preservation was an important part of national heritage and should be available to the public. The Presidential Libraries in the system include:

  1. Herbert Hoover Library
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
  3. Harry S. Truman Library
  4. Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
  5. John F. Kennedy Library
  6. Lyndon B. Johnson Library
  7. Richard Nixon Library
  8. Gerald R. Ford Library
  9. Jimmy Carter Library
  10. Ronald Reagan Library
  11. George Bush Library
  12. William J. Clinton Library
  13. George W. Bush Library

I Like Ike

I won't say that I wasn't a little bit disappointed when we arrived at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum only to discover that the museum is getting a full renovation and therefore closed. Bummer. The museum is really what appeals to me and my family. However, they said that they did have a small exhibit up on the second floor of the library, so I kept an open mind.

Even though the exhibit was small, I was fascinated by the life and presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a man of integrity, ingenuity, and compassion. He served our nation out of a love for its people, and he pursued peace with all of his might.

What to see at the Eisenhower Library & Museum

The fully renovated museum is set to re-open on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6th, 2019. Until then, you can still view the temporary exhibit in the Library as well as tour his boyhood home and burial site.

The Eisenhower Family Home

When we watched the introductory video, Ike's family home was described as "modest" but the images looked pretty grand to me. However when we walked outside and we were able to go inside the house, the 1200 square foot home for 9 people. Turn of the century life always amazes me.

Even though the rooms were small, and the living quarters would be tight with seven boys, Ike's mom did an amazing job raising her boys. They all grew up to be successful men in their fields. Her home was quite lovely. I especially loved her wallpaper and dishes. 

Ike's Timeline & Historical Impact

The exhibit above the Library might small, but it is one of the most excellent walk-of history that I have seen. They've done an excellent job of curating information and presenting it in an interesting and compelling way. I didn't want to miss reading any of it!

Some of the fascinating things I learned about Ike included:

  • He lived through so many changes in America's landscape from frontier living to witnessing a man walk on the moon.

  • He paid his brother's way through college, and then enrolled at West Point because he could get his college paid for there.
  • A knee injury from playing football at West Point almost ended his Army career.
  • He was a part of both World War I and World War II

  • In 1941 he thought he'd never see any combat, and then in 1942 he was put in charge of "the whole shebang" as he told his wife.
  • He coordinated the D-Day invasion of Normandy
  • Although he didn't want to run for president, he wouldn't let an opportunity to serve the American people pass.
  • Ike is responsible for the interstate highways that we're enjoying on our road trip.
  • His life motto was "Gently in manner, strongly in deed."

Place of Meditation

On the Eisenhower Library campus, you can also go to the beautiful Place of Meditation for a quiet moment in honor of Ike and Mamie, who are both buried there.  The quote above their resting place clearly describes Ike's love of the men that served under him. He continually showed how deeply he valued their lives and the cost of their service to their country.

"Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends."

Guildhall Address, London, England, June 12, 1945

We'll Be Back

With our admission this time, we were told that we're invited back for free when the renovated museum reopens. We already have plans to come back to this historical site and maybe take in more of the historical city of Abilene, Kansas.

2 Comments

  1. Michelle on August 1, 2018 at 1:56 am

    We were just there this week and enjoyed a couple of nearby attractions as well. If you return on a weekend, there are a couple of interesting attractions within walking distance. You can walk next door to Old Abilene Town for a quick but entertaining gunfight starring sheriff Wild Bill Hickok (free but donations accepted). There are some historic buildings to see (though they’ve seen better days), including an old log-sided church and cemetery with a tombstone inscribed to a nameless cattle driver killed in a stampede. Many other visitors were arriving by excursion train — a real steam engine which travels roundtrip from Abilene to Enterprise. We didn’t take the train this time, but instead walked down the road to the Dickinson County Heritage Museum. The museum has an outdoor area as well which includes a working CW Parker carousel (rides $2) and several of the area’s relocated historic buildings (schoolhouse, barn with farm tools and machinery, homesteader’s cabin, old general store, telephone operator station, and more). That was a highlight as you’re able to enter the buildings and they are well-cared for by the museum. Here are some links for your next trip … http://www.heritagecenterdk.com + http://www.asvrr.org + http://oldabilenecowtown.com

    • Betsy on August 1, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Oh wow! That’s incredible. We weren’t there for very long, but we’re planning on going back once the museum is updated. We’ll have to check out some more of the historic attractions! Thanks for sharing!

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