Today, October 13 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of our 34th President, Dwight David Eisenhower. President Eisenhnower visited the Little White house twice, once for meetings in 1955 and to recover from a heart attack in 1956. The Eisenhower’s list of accomplishments are long: Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, Chief of Staff of Staff of the US Army, President of Columbia University and Supreme Commander of NATO. And this was before becoming President of the United State of America.
Eisenhower was elected president in 1952 and is one of only 5 other presidents to have never held political office prior to being president. At the time of his election he was the second oldest person (after James Buchanan), at the age of 62, to be elected president. Eisenhower was the first president to be televised on color television, the first president to be constitutionally prevented from running for re-election and the first president fall under the Former Presidents Act, giving presidents a pension and Secret Service protection upon leaving office. Eisenhower was the last president to be born in the 19th century.
The last two American states were admitted to the Union during Eisenhower’s presidency and he appointed five justices to the Supreme Court include Earl Warren as Chief Justice in 1953. One of the greatest accomplishments of the Eisenhower Administration was the creation of and Interstate Highway System. Eisenhower also created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (today known as the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Dept. of Education created in 1979) into a cabinet level position.
After retirement, Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, retired to their farm next to Gettysburg Battlefield and after his death donated the farm to the National Park Service. Eisenhower died of congestive heart failure on March 28, 1969. At his funeral, President Richard M. Nixon, who had served as vice president under Eisenhower said,
“Some men are considered great because they lead great armies or they lead powerful nations. For eight years now, Dwight Eisenhower has neither commanded an army nor led a nation; and yet he remained through his final days the world’s most admired and respected man, truly the first citizen of the world.”
Eisenhower is buried next to his wife Mamie, who died in 1979 and his son Doud, who died at the age of 3 in 1921 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas.
The Harry S. Truman Little White House currently has an exhibit, We Like Ike, Too, that is free and open to the public, featuring photos and memorabilia from Eisenhower’s time in Key West. It runs through December.