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Six decades later, Americans should still like President ‘Ike’

Many forget his accomplishments

Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

This year is the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

With heightened tensions on that troubled peninsula this year, it’s important to remember the man who helped bring about that peace.

He was a warrior who hated war and fought valiantly for peace and justice throughout his 8 years as president of the United States.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is chiefly remembered as a military man, a general, the Allied supreme commander in Europe during World War II, and the architect of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

His 1953-61 presidency is largely remembered by much of the general public as uneventful. Eisenhower is viewed today as a president lacking the panache of Franklin Roosevelt, the bluntness of Harry Truman, and the youthful charisma of John F. Kennedy. He is seen as a beneficiary, rather than catalyst, of the prosperity of the 1950s.

That view could not be more wrong.

Having emerged from the genocide of the Second World War, Eisenhower was determined to avoid a third world war and a nuclear holocaust.

Six months after taking office, he achieved peace with honor in Korea, securing the freedom of the South Korean people.

Eisenhower guided our country and the world through a confrontation with China over the islands of Quemoy and Matsu; and through the Suez and Lebanon crises in the Middle East and the Hungarian revolt of 1956, which he supported but did not commit troops to, in order to avoid nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Still, he blocked Soviet expansion beyond its sphere of influence.

At home, he sent federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., to ensure African-American students could enroll in a previously all-white public school there. He can claim the St. Lawrence Seaway with Canada and the interstate highway system among the nation’s great public works projects.

Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address was visionary.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” he said. “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

Those words continue to be relevant today.

Dwight Eisenhower may well be the most underrated president of the past 100 years. He was a warrior for peace and justice – for his time and for all time.

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