BLANCHE L. LINCOLN: Our Responsibility, Eisenhower Deserves Memorial

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Blanche L. Lincoln Special to the Democrat-Gazette
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When my dear friend, former Sen. Bob Dole, asked me to become a member of the Advisory Committee of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, my first thought flashed to the statement that General Eisenhower had prepared for release if the Normandy invasion had failed.

I don't remember when I first read the now-famous note, or under what circumstances, but I have always been struck by its closing sentence: "If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

Despite the thousands of unknowns, participants, weather conditions, subordinate decision-makers, and an opposing military entrenched for battle, General Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the outcome of the invasion he had planned. He was responsible. He alone.

My second thought was that it was only a few years later, in 1957, that President Eisenhower proved resolute once again. In the midst of a fierce editorial debate and vociferous state and local political opposition to the integration of Little Rock Central High School, President Eisenhower deployed the 101st Airborne to Arkansas and took command of the Arkansas National Guard from Gov. Orval Faubus. Under his command, the troops escorted nine bright children into school and into a more fair future. His actions ensured that the Supreme Court order to integrate Little Rock's schools was carried out with a minimum of disruption and violence and set a national standard for the rule of law.

He was, again, responsible. He alone.

I guess you could say "I like Ike" and, of course, I was glad to join what I see as the very important effort to preserve his legacy and educate future generations about his impact on the 20th century. From his years as a military leader and strategist, to his two terms in the Oval Office, Eisenhower proved time and again that he was one of America's greatest leaders and major historical figures.

I am particularly excited about the educational aspects of the National Eisenhower Memorial, which will be located directly in front of the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

It will be the first presidential memorial constructed in the 21st century and will include a unique online educational component to provide teacher and student resources, including original content and curricula for use with K-12 students. What this means is students and online visitors from Little Rock to Los Angeles to London and beyond will learn about the role Eisenhower played in American history, and his relevance to our modern world.

Known as the Eisenhower E-Memorial, this unique Web-based resource is already up and running, and it uses cutting-edge technologies to deliver educational content to students and other E-Memorial visitors from the United States and around the world. The E-Memorial's first phase is focusing on pivotal moments in Eisenhower's life, several of which, including an excellent piece on the Little Rock crisis in 1957 that features President Bill Clinton, are already being brought online and can be accessed at eisenhowermemorial.gov.

I am excited and proud to be a member of the advisory committee that is helping to move the National Eisenhower Memorial forward to completion. Memorializing Ike, and keeping his legacy alive for generations to come, is important for Arkansans, for Americans, and audiences across the globe.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a leader of immense power and influence. He was the leader of the free world in both war and peace, who chose not to build monuments to himself. To me, that is exactly the type of person for whom monuments should be erected.

It is our responsibility to do so. We together.

News Date: 
Monday, November 16, 2015