WORDS WITH ECHOES

Seven boys, in this house? Oh, boy!  (all photographs by Marylin Warner)

Seven boys, in this house? Oh, boy! (all photographs by Marylin Warner)

The Eisenhower family home and the Eisenhower Museum; the beginning of the story and the ending legacy.

The Eisenhower family home and the Eisenhower Museum; the beginning of the story and the ending legacy.

Thousands of predictions have already been made for 2014: call-in predictions on the radio and postings on the Internet; countless psychic, political, religious and medical predictions; many predictions of comedies, tragedies, and reversals of fortunes.

Instead of discussing the words that predict what events might happen in the future, I like to consider the words that have lasted, the words spoken and written in the past but are again relevant and helpful. I think of these as the words that have echoes that live beyond the time they were written.

For instance, President “Ike” Eisenhower and his wife Mamie lost their first son, Doud, at the age of three after an attack of scarlet fever.  “There is no tragedy in life like the death of a child,” President Eisenhower wrote. “Things never get back to the way they were.”  These words endure; they have echoes that still ring true with parents everywhere. Before my mother’s dementia, she had a heart for the Eisenhowers, and especially for Mamie, the First Lady who suffered the loss of her first child.

Abilene is one of my favorite Kansas towns.  In addition to charming shops and traditions, friendly and talented people, and the amazing Brown’s Park with hiking areas, streams, a Frisbee Golf course and a superb campground, Abilene is also the site of the Eisenhower family home.  Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the third of seven Eisenhower sons, and he graduated from Abilene High School.  The rest of his life is history.

He went on to become a 5-Star General in the U.S. Army during WWII and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.  As America’s 34th President, he launched the Interstate Highway System, sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce desegregation of public schools, and implemented desegregation of the Armed Forces.  And yet, when he died, he was not buried in Arlington National Cemetery as many expected, but brought home to be buried in Abilene, KS.  Ike, Mamie and their first son are buried together in the chapel located on the grounds featuring the Eisenhower Museum, the Presidential Library, and the relocated original Eisenhower family home.  It’s an impressive area, a rich legacy of American history.

Which of President Eisenhower’s words echo true in 2014?

“Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

“The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.”

 “Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.”

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

“The purpose is clear. It is safety with solvency. The country is entitled to both.”

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

“There are a number of things wrong with Washington. One of them is that everyone is too far from home.”

President Eisenhower is home again, in a town of  7,000, with deep roots and a wealth of history and knowledge that is available to everyone.  And as my mother would say, “I like Ike!” And so do I. Visit Abilene, and you will, too.

Eisenhower Presidential Library. (My winter photographs do not do justice to the impressive and grounds.)

Eisenhower Presidential Library. (My winter photographs do not do justice to the impressive grounds.)

Inside the chapel.

Inside the chapel.

"The Chance For Peace"~ one of the inscriptions in the chapel.

“The Chance For Peace”~ one of the inscriptions in the chapel.

The Eisenhower Chapel, where Ike, Mamie, and their first son are buried.

The Eisenhower Chapel, where Ike, Mamie, and their first son are buried.

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72 Comments

Filed under Abilene Kansas, Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren

72 responses to “WORDS WITH ECHOES

  1. Haven’t been there, but I love going to Presidential homes/libraries/museums. One of my favorites is the Truman place in Missouri. I might have to find a way to get to the Eisenhower place–in honor of my great-grandfather who was a captain under his command and knew him well enough for Ike, when he was campaigning for President in the 1950’s, to stop in our home town to have lunch with my Grampa T. (Although he was my great-grand, I knew him well. He lived until I was nearly 30, and my oldest son felt very close to his great-great granddad).

  2. Oh, Tracy, then you HAVE to visit Abilene. See the amazing museum through your great-grandfather’s eyes; you might even identify him in some of the many photographs from the war. Then go out to Brown’s Park for a hike. Our favorite is a wooded area we’ve nicknamed “Sleepy Hollow.”

    How exciting that Ike stopped so he and your Grampa T. could have lunch together!

  3. What a fascinating place. I think this statement still echoes “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

  4. Don

    Marylin those quotes are just outstanding. I had no idea that he wasn’t buried in Arlington. I thought he was. Somehow where he is now seems fitting. Great post, Marylin. For me it’s the second last quote that speaks in to our year, especially for us here in South Africa.

    • Amen to that, Don. All of the quotes ring true with me, that that next to the last quote makes me tremble at how much Americans have forgotten is essential and have lost along the way.

  5. All those quotes are relevant today, I think. My favourite is : “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”
    Abilene looks an interesting place to visit and I love the architecture of the house – we have nothing like that at all here.

    • Thanks, Jenny. Now you know how amazed I am with all your wonderful pictures of the UK, and your trips and adventures. We do have many things in common, but our architecture and open farming spaces are very different.

  6. Marylin, I love the unquestionable integrity quote. As I age (and mature!), my devotion to my own integrity and finding it in others has become very important to me.
    Thank you for this info on Eisenhower. What a great man he was! It’s been a long time since history class and it is nice to revisit his life.
    xo Joanne

    • Thank you, Joanne. Abilene is only nine miles from where our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren live, and it’s been a joy for us to understand Eisenhower better and introduce our grandkids to the museum and his family’s home. The Presidential Library will come later; we keep learning and learning.

  7. Very interesting and timely post. My favourite quote is the one from the ‘Peace Address’. “Every gun made….is theft from those who hunger…” And “humanity hanging on a cross of iron”. So powerful and such truth
    Thank you. I don’t know as much about “Ike” as I should. But the Ike you presented I like.

    • Before moving to Colorado forty years ago, I grew up in Kansas–albeit the southeast corner, 200 miles from Abilene–and yet it was many years before I learned to fully appreciate Eisenhower, Rod.
      As 5-Star General who knew what had to be done and led much of our involvement in the war, he still wrote, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” He understood that the costs of war leave humanity hanging on a cross of iron, and I find that honest appraisal to be rare and somehow comforting.

  8. Amy

    Thank you for the history lesson of Eisenhower, Marylin! Wonderful quotes!

    • I was a career English, literature and speech teacher, Amy, and history was never at the top of my interests or expertise. But the more I learn of many of our leaders–politicians, military officers, ‘leaders’ at all levels–the more cynical I become. Eisenhower had his faults, but I believe he had a high level of integrity.

      • Amy

        English, literature, and speech is a pretty intimidating combination 🙂 I agree Eisenhower had a high level of integrity.

      • Aw, no, Amy. English, literature and speech–in various combinations–can be so much fun. Now, if you asked some of the thousands of high school students I taught over 30 years, they might describe it differently…

      • Amy

        Over 30 years! I bet they know now how much they had learned from you.

  9. I have been to Abilene and enjoyed it so much–was one of those perfect days. I loved bumping down those brick streets! My hometown had brick streets when I was a tiny tot. I enjoyed “meeting” Ike here and we went on to read several books about this interesting man. I liked touring the home most of all. I stood in that tiny kitchen and was amazed how that mother did such a fine job making men when there was nothing lush, fancy or even roomy to the house. She must have been a great woman herself for those boys to model after.

    • Absolutely, Claudia. The docent who led of of the house tours we took said that the mother kept her sons busy. Out in the garden and the fields, working jobs around town, and at night she had them reading and doing hobbies. With seven sons…I can’t imagine.

  10. What a great post – loved the quotes and history lesson on Eisenhower. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  11. juliabarrett

    What an amazing beautiful post, Marylin. And such insight and wisdom! We have no one in Washington these days who can hold a candle to this generation of men and women.

  12. Eisenhower’s words still ring true. Thank you for sharing Ike’s wisdom and thoughts on his life. That quote in the chapel from “The Chance for Peace, address says it all.

    I recall thinking when Khrushchev was rattling his saber that instead of a war they should just put Ike and him in a ring to duke it out. I felt Ike would win in no time and then we could have peace.

    • Especially if Khrushchev had his shoe off, banging the table, saying he’d bury us. Can’t you just see the look on Eisenhower’s face as he watched that rant and waited for the bell to ring and their fight to begin!

      • Marilyn, that thought makes me laugh. I might have been about 12 or 13 at the time … but I knew my plan would end ALL wars if the big guys had to duke it out. And Ike would win the match. 😉

  13. Lovely, Marylin. My daughter’s friend is trying to cope with the death of her beautiful 2-year-old son. He just didn’t wake up on Sunday morning. Her pain is unimaginable. Please send a prayer their way.

    I think the reason these quotes of President Eisenhower’s are timeless is because they are rooted in love. Happy new year.

    • Oh, I’m so sorry for your friend, Deb, and for all who knew and loved this little boy. Sometimes I just don’t understand–and cannot imagine–how losses like this can be survived. Your friend is in my prayers.
      I have several friends who lost young children, and they agree with Eisenhower: there is no tragedy like it, and nothing is ever the same.

  14. Jim

    VISITING ABILENE, KANSAS, SHOULD BE A REQUIREMENT FOR EVERY AMERICAN, especially those with children. Why? There is an experience In Abilene that one cannot learn from a history book nor feel in a classroom.

    A visit to the Eisenhower Museum and Library in Abilene is more than a memorable first-hand history lesson about the accomplishments of a great American. When you visit this delightful, small American town and absorb its culture for a while, when you visit the Eisenhower home, when you see the small bedroom Ike shared with his brothers, when you see the table where he studied, the humble but tidy kitchen where his mom prepared meals, when you see the chair where Ike’s dad sat after a long day’s work in a creamery, it hits you. It has to do with experiencing in person the immediate juxtaposition of a small town, a little boy’s actual home, and a museum about a remarkable leader.

    It’s a patriotic feeling that all Americans, especially our children, need to experience and know is still true: we live in a nation where anyone among us–from cities, farms, or small towns, whether rich or poor, well educated or modestly educated, male or female of any race, can and will, by means of her/his integrity and vision, rise to positions of leadership that may even be important enough to alter the course of all mankind for the better.

    Yes, ‘I like Ike’ too. Very much. Thank you, Marylin, for a blog post that strikes a patriotic chord with me.

    • Thanks, honey. I still remember you and our grandchildren, meandering through the museum, discussing everything, and how big their eyes were. Eisenhower strikes a chord with many, I think.

  15. What a wonderful piece to begin the new year. Eisenhower was a wise man. We tend, as a people, to lose track of such wisdom, I think.

  16. Thank you, Ellen. I agree, and there’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to get back on track!

  17. Thanks for that visit back in time to what often seems like a more sensible era, Marylin. He’s the first president I truly remember. And with the best slogan because it rhymed! 🙂

    • Thanks, Nancy.
      As we drive along I-70 there’s a big billboard about Abilene. It has the original picture, but the original slogan is crossed out and now proclaims:
      “We STILL Like Ike!”

  18. I grew up in the Washington, DC area, so the quote about things being wrong in Washington continues to echo for me. However, my favorite quote is “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” For me this quote is tied closely to his quote about Washington. I firmly believe many of the problems in Washington stem from lack of integrity. Thank you for sharing your photos of the beautiful grounds, Marylin. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  19. Unfortunately, Jill, I think you’re absolutely right about the source of the problems. Surely there are some in Washington who do have integrity, but they’re drowned out by those who don’t.
    On a happier note: Happy New Year to you, too!

  20. Life and Other Turbulence

    Great post! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the photos as well. Best wishes to you for a wonderful new year!

  21. Love this post! The quotes are quite moving and still so relevant today. Lessons to be relearned.

  22. Marilyn thanks for reading my blog. I too had many words to tell my mother who suffered from dementia for the last 15 years or so of her life. I love your blog and I shall follow you now. 🙂

  23. This one stood out for me: “Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.” Have you read an Eisenhower biography that you’d recommend? You’ve now made me want to read about his life before the War.

    • Darla, we’ve gone to the museum, chapel, library, and family home several times, and each time I go I learn more. There are MANY biographies about Ike; my favorite information comes from the guides at the museum and the details on display in Ike’s and Mamie’s notebooks and journals. The Abilene Public Library had small reference biographies in the non-check out area, but most of the general books about him are about his military challenges and accomplishments instead of his early life.

  24. Fabulous post Marylin! So many of Ike’s quotes relating to government seem to ring true…let’s hope many of them do not come to fruition in 2014 or any time for that matter. Thank you for the mini history lesson as well. Being from the mid-west myself I always like to read about the great things that have transpired there and the inspirational people that were also rooted there! Blessings to you! Robyn

  25. Thanks, Robyn. Like you, I hope Ike’s comments about government can be turned around by changes in attitudes, but the more I read about Ike’s frustration with the ‘politics’ instead of the ‘progress’ in Washington, the more it seems we’re already deep into fulfilling them.

  26. Great quotes! I like “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” And most leaders could truly need some integrity these days as well. Thank you!

  27. I believe for possibility of good year 2014…
    Even there`s a bad prediction I will not Believe 🙂
    Thanks for sharing Marylin 🙂

  28. I like Ike too! Alot! And Abilene – oh I would love to visit! Thank you Marylin for this wonderful (sad, poignant, powerful) history lesson about the Eisenhower family and their home town. This is the kind of Americana that I lap up. The quote about farming is the one that struck me the most. So much widsom in these words. Love the photos, love this post 🙂

  29. Marylin, what a lovely post again! Love his quote on farming. So very true. And yes, the loss of a child has to be the hardest loss to face. Another famous quote of Eisenhower that echoes today is the one he made in his exit speech: “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.”

  30. An amazing post Marylin! Love the quote, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” My Grandparents were farmers; and if they were still around, I think they would agree… farming isn’t easy when you’re a farmer. Having bucked bales of hay in 90-degree heat (back in the early 1970s), I totally agree with President Eisenhower.
    Your photos are beautiful! My husband and I are headed to Abilene this week…

    • Enjoy your time in Abilene, Theresa; I hope it’s started warming up for you! It was cold and snowy when we were there recently (as you can tell by my pictures).
      My grandparents and uncles were/are farmers, so I appreciate the examples of your family that you shared. Eisenhower understood and valued the effort, hard work and dedication demanded of farmers.

  31. Molly

    I have been to the Eisenhower center several times. The first time I was there I was in Middle School, and was traveling from Colorado to Kansas with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa missed the turn of in Salina to head south, but he played it off that he wanted to take us to the Eisenhower museum. 🙂 I just remeber it was the heat of summer, and we had been in the car all day already, and so the last thing I wanted to do was go have a history lesson.

    Something must of lingered about the museum with me, though. When I was in charge of teaching my G.E.D. preperation course at Fort Riley (about 30 minutes away from Abilene) I was beyond excited to plan a field trip for my students to the museum. We discussed so much history, and it really came to life for my students. It was one of those moments as a teacher, that get you really excited about sharing knowledge with your students.

    At the end of the day, I was amazed how many of my students shared with me that this was the FIRST museum that they had ever been to. NOT the frst Presidential museum, but the FIRST MUSEUM…PERIOD. That floored me, here I had been to this museum (and countless others) from a very young age, and some of these students were in their 30s and 40s and this was their first experience.

    What really made it exciting, was the number of students who said they were going to bring their families back the upcoming weekend. Just as Eisenhower said “Things never get back to the way they were” – these students, and their families will never go back to the way they were after being exposed to learning to live/love history.

  32. I love this, Molly. Now you’re sharing a story about my parents that I didn’t know, although I can just see my dad missing a turnoff and acting like he’d planned all along to go to Abilene.
    I can also picture my mom spending extra time in the First Lady’s part of the museum, with the china from the White House, her hats and jewelry, and the old interview on video where she talks about marriage and rumors and things.
    I do remember when you took your GED students on the field field trip to the Eisenhower Museum–how many GED teachers will give up their own time to do that?–but maybe your caring and your amazing teaching were also what made you the #1 GED teacher!!! You did a great job, sweetie.

  33. We have been to the Eisenhower home in Gettsyburg PA and it is also so rich in history. We saw where the boys caught the school bus for school. What struck us was the simplicity but beauty of the home and today it is still a working farm (at least it was when we were there) It would be nice to go to Abilene to see his other home. Every year they have a WWII event held on the grounds – I wish I can remember when they purchased the home but he stayed there while he was president and the presidential helicopter was often there bringing him and many guests to his home. I enjoy going to places like this and learning all the little details that history books do not include. And I see you made GED teacher of the year – way to go!!

    • Thanks, Patty, but that was my daughter’s GED teaching award based on the successes of her students and the program overall. Molly did a wonderful job, including taking students on field trips like the one to the Eisenhower family home, museum, Presidential library and chapel in Abilene. She had some military dependents from Fort Riley in her class, and it was the first Presidential Library and museum some of them had ever visited. Many returned with their children.

      I’m interested in the Gettsyburg PA homestead you mentioned (it was Ike’s grandparents’, too, I think). I know he had some pacifist religious background, which makes me even more in awe of his ability to lead as he did in WWII (and also his ‘cross of iron’ reference in his exit speech). If ever you’re able to visit the Abilene, KS site where Ike graduated from Abilene High School and is now buried in the chapel, I think you’ll find it very interesting. It’s an excellent tribute and reminder.

  34. Great post! I often travel on the Eisenhower in my hometown, so I’m grateful for that interstate! And I so agree that words resonate long after they’re spoken. So I certainly need to be more careful about what I say. Words have the power to hurt or heal. It’s up to us to choose.

  35. Isn’t it a pity that this is not displayed in politicians offices today, ““The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

    Great post sweets xxxx

  36. But would they read it, Tom, and would it make a difference?
    I overheard an 83-year-old lady discuss this very issue a few days ago. She said she believes that surely most politicians start out with a sincere desire to work hard, tell the truth, and make things better, but maybe it’s something in the air or the water or the money that makes them forget all that… The lady next to her jumped in and said, “My vote says it’s the money.”
    Hugs to you and your family, Tom.

  37. Sometimes it’s hard to find a great choice of topic, at least in my own experience. You hit the bull’s eye with this one. My favorite echo: There are a number of things wrong with Washington. One of them is that everyone is too far from home.”

    My parents and grandparents, though pacifists, idolized Eisenhower, They saw him as a Pennsylvania Dutchman because of his ancestry, and their were rumors that his mother had a Mennonite background. My research shows that she was a Jehovah’s Witness.

    Your photographs are wonderful. The winter landscape sharpens the detail, I think.

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