Eisenhower Memorial, Washington, DC

During a visit to Washington, DC, earlier this month, I got my first look at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial which is located south of the National Mall, just across Independence Avenue from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Congress authorized the creation of a memorial to Eisenhower back in 1999, but this site was only dedicated in 2020. It got little attention at the time, mostly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The memorial occupies a large space and resembles the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial by consisting of several outdoor “rooms” that highlight significant events in the subject’s life. For Eisenhower, these show him as a young farm boy in Kansas, as the Supreme Allied Commander talking to paratroopers on the eve of D-Day, and as President addressing a gathering of men in suits.

The most notable and unique feature of the Eisenhower Memorial is along the rear of the site where a series of free-standing columns support an 80-foot-tall stainless steel woven “tapestry” that is supposed to depict images from Eisenhower’s life. However, when I was there at noon on a muggy, overcast day, all I saw at first glance were a row of six of these mammoth columns with the façade of the adjacent building visible between them (see photo below). It was only when I got right up to one of the columns that I noticed the steel tapestry stretched between them. Next time I’m in Washington, I’ll visit this site after dark when the images on the tapestry should be more visible than at midday.

Here are some images of the major features of the Eisenhower Monument, along with the accompanying inscriptions.

“Because no man is really a man how has lost out of himself all of the boy, I want to speak first of the dreams of a barefoot boy. Frequently, they are to be of a street car conductor or he sees himself as the town policeman, about all he may reach to a position of locomotive engineer, but always in his dreams is that day when he finally comes home. Comes home to a welcome from his own home town. Because today that dream of mine of 45 years or more ago has been realized beyond the wildest stretches of my own imagination, I come here, first, to thank you, to say the proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.”

Homecoming speech, Abilene, Kansas – June 22, 1945


“The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!”

D-Day address to troops – June 6, 1944


“We look upon this shaken earth, and we declare our firm and fixed purpose – the building of a peace with justice in the world where moral law prevails.”

Second Inaugural Address – January 21, 1957


The Eisenhower Memorial is a notable addition to the memorials and monuments in Washington. There was some controversy about the architect selected (the world-famous Frank Gehry) and about some of the initial designs, but it has mostly been quietly accepted, which is probably a good description of our current view of Eisenhower’s presidency.