On this day in the year when I was almost 19 years old I was a sad kid. I never told any of my friends that I was sad because they might have thought I was goofier than they already thought. You must keep in mind what was going on in 1969, and what other folks my age were mainly focused on.
But on this day (3-28) back then, former President Eisenhower passed into history. He was the first President that I was aware of in my life. In fact my first memory of politics (I was maybe eight years old) or anything other than what I wanted at the moment was of my mother or father telling me sternly - as I made a noisy entrance into the room where our television was located - to "Be quiet! The President is speaking!"
I remember being confounded about why it was so important to be quiet while some old guy on TV was talking about something I neither understood nor cared about. But my parents were watching intently, (dare I say reverently?) and I knew something was different about this telecast. I have no memory about the subject of that speech, and even today I'm not even mildly curious.
President Eisenhower is not a political or even philosophical ideal of mine. He was not a libertarian. It wasn't fashionable or even desirable in a world which he just helped save from the horrors of German Nazism, Japanese Bushido or Soviet Communism to be one. A President, like every other person, must be judged in the context of his times.
I have no idols, but I do have heroes. And he is a hero of mine for many reasons this space won't allow me to bore you with. So he wasn't a libertarian, but he was a patriot.
On a whim, in preparation for writing this, I googled the word "ike." The results were depressing. A word which used to mean only one thing to the vast majority of the world didn't yield a single result which referred to the former President. The number one entry was for a sandwich shop. I gave up after four pages.
My Ike was a hero, not a hero sandwich. I wish we had more heroes today.
By Grant Davies,
Regular Columnist, THL
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