George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush join Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial fundraising effort

Article Author: 
Tim Carpenter, The Topeka Capital-Journal
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Tom Hanks, Tom Brokaw chipping in to help raise funding for memorial

A cadre of political, military and celebrity heavyweights joined the advisory committee driving a private campaign to raise $150 million to build the long-delayed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., officials said Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and retired U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, both Kansas Republicans, revealed former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush would be on the committee striving to construct a memorial to the Kansan who became supreme Allied commander during World War II and was elected to two terms as U.S. president.

The panel also includes actor Tom Hanks, former Secretary of State and retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell and former Secretary of State James Baker, as well as former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, Bill Frist, George Mitchell and Trent Lott.

“In recent months, we have made many significant additions to our advisory committee,” said Roberts, chairman of the bipartisan Eisenhower Memorial Commission. “This demonstrates there exists a powerful movement to build the Eisenhower Memorial.”

Roberts said the foremost members were President George H.W. Bush, who was a decorated World War II aviator, and his son, President George W. Bush.

Hanks said he was eager to join the effort to create a lasting tribute to Eisenhower, who was “one of our most prescient and wise” commanders in chief. The two-time Academy Award-winning actor said he previously collaborated on the World War II Memorial in Washington with Dole and retired Gen. P.X. Kelley, both of whom are on the Eisenhower board.

“My role in that effort was meant to honor the sacrifices of Ike’s troops and all those who served in that global conflict,” said Hanks, who produced “Band of Brothers” and starred in “Saving Private Ryan.”

Last week, Dole announced the effort to raise $150 million to build a memorial to be located among federal agencies from Eisenhower’s era near the National Mall. Dole was among key figures in raising $170 million for the World War II Memorial completed in 2004.

The 34th president’s library is located in the central Kansas community of Abilene.

In 1999, Congress authorized an Eisenhower memorial to be constructed on four acres in the District of Columbia.

After years of wrangling, the National Capital Planning Commission granted approval of a revised design proposed by Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry. His plan includes a massive tapestry of woven steel and 80-foot-tall columns.

Two of Eisenhower’s granddaughters have objected to elements of Gehry’s design, especially the tapestry, and created enough skepticism that federal lawmakers have withheld funding. Originally, the goal was to finance the memorial from a combination of government and private sources.

Tim Carpenter can be reached at (785) 295-1158 or
Follow Tim on Twitter @TimVCarpenter. Read Tim's blog.

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News Date: 
Wednesday, September 16, 2015