Eisenhower Presidential Museum

Welcome to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum sign.

Do you like Ike? On our recent travels, we visited the Eisenhower Presidential Museum in Abilene, Kansas.

The museum was open from 10 am to 2 pm, and timed tickets needed to be purchased online in advance. Some parts of the complex were still closed, including the Visitor Center and Gift Shop as well as the inside tours of his boyhood home. Also, any “interactive exhibits” (which were touted on numerous billboards) were not working. This included any movies throughout the museum. These closures were a bit disappointing as touring old homes is a favorite way of mine to learn history. In addition, I always learn from a museum’s movies. However, even with these limitations, we elected to still visit, and I’d describe our day as a landslide victory in every way!

View of five pylons with United States flag in front.
Eisenhower statue.

We enjoyed gorgeous weather as we meandered about the grounds before our scheduled entry time. We walked around the outside of Ike’s boyhood home which we later learned was “on the wrong side of the tracks” at the time. We visited the Meditation Chapel, saw the outside of the Presidential Library, looked up at the large statue of Ike, and walked among the pylons flanking one end of the campus.

Eisenhower home sign.
Side view of Eisenhower boyhood home.

Once inside the museum, the path moves in a chronological order of events. Ike’s parents had seven sons, including one who passed away very young. While he had humble beginnings, the foundation was set for strong values and a life of service. Ike’s mother filled her sons “with ambition and raised them to value learning, discipline, service and hard work.” All of the Eisenhower sons were successful and led lives with purpose.

Note: Any words put in quotes are taken from the exhibits in the Eisenhower Presidential Museum. I would also note that many of the Eisenhower quotes I read in the Presidential Museum are quite relevant today.

As time and the museum traveled on, we learn of Ike’s appointment to West Point and later a reputation there for playing poker and smoking cigarettes. This is a good reminder, I think, that no one is perfect, and we aren’t a finished product as long as we are still alive.

Mamie's wedding dress.
Mamie’s Wedding Dress

Time moves on, and Ike meets Mamie, a young women raised with privilege and educated for high society.

Ike was the handsomest man… | a far cry from the society boy | lounge lizards with patent-leather hair.

-Mamie

Mamie’s background makes her the perfect partner for Ike as her entertaining and social skills helped to promote Ike’s career in the military. Ike had numerous assignments before his eventual promotion to General.

Bamboo house model.
Kind of a dollhouse!

Dwight carried this handcrafted bamboo house model back to the United States when he returned from the Philippines. He gave it to Mamie as a reminder of their time in Manila.”

Ike’s Staff Car

As General Eisenhower, Ike led the allies to victory in WWII, but along the way, he acknowledged the horrors of that war and worked to educates others for all time.

… But the most interesting – although horrible sight – that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda”.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Presidential Museum

After this visit, General Eisenhower requested the press and government officials from Washington and London to visit these camps. He felt it was his duty to “document and publicize the horrors of these camps.” “His efforts helped assure the 6 to 10 million lives lost in the Holocaust are not forgotten.”

After the war, Eisenhower served as President of Columbia University. During this time, he was recruited to run for President of the United States. Both parties wanted Ike to run on their ticket. This was the last time in the history of the United States when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on something. He won the presidency in a landslide victory.

Picture of a group of African-Americans in front of the White House.  There is an Eisenhower quote underneath - "The must be no second-class citizens in this country."

Dwight D. Eisenhower was President from 1953 to 1961. These years were filled with peace and prosperity. President Eisenhower did not believe in racial segregation and worked to eliminate it. He appointed the first African American to the White House staff. He desegregated the Veterans Administration hospitals and federal schools for military dependents. He appointed judges who supported desegregation and civil rights.

President Eisenhower “believed prosperity was a pre-condition for peace at home and abroad. He also recognized that poverty, along with a lack of cultural understanding often leads to conflict. As president, Eisenhower launched programs to help those in need, promote American values, and build trust around the globe.

President Eisenhower believed in a balanced budget. He promoted economic strength and military strength as ways to protect the nation on all fronts.

As a result of an army convoy in 1919, Eisenhower saw the need for a national highway network, and in 1956, he signed legislation creating our nation’s interstate system.

President Eisenhower died on March 28, 1969. He is interned in the Meditation Chapel beside his Mamie and their young son, Icky. Ever proud of his military service, he is buried in a standard issue enlisted man’s casket.

View of inside of the Meditation Chapel.

In front of the stained glass window are several rows of benches. I took a moment to sit in the reverent silence to say a prayer for our country.

Even with the closures, the Eisenhower Presidential Museum and Library is a must see attraction. There is so much more I could have written about, but I realize I can’t recreate the whole experience in a blog post. My hope is that the inspiration I felt visiting this place has come through in this post – even if just a bit.

From here on it would be the nation I would be serving, not myself.  Suddenly the flag itself meant something.
          -Ike

17 comments

  1. What a joy to read this post, Betty! I have visited the Eisenhower museum and chapel in Abilene many times over the years as it was a common “field trip” destination for a kid growing up in Kansas. I’m sad you didn’t get to go inside the childhood home. Like you, I absolutely love touring historical homes. Thank you for your insight about Eisenhower. I didn’t realize he was a bipartisan selection to run for president.!! Okay, I need to go back to Abilene and pay more attention. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I am so glad you enjoyed this post. The exhibit said both parties wanted him to run, but he ended up running as a Republican according to google. Abilene is only five and a half hours from our home, I’m surprised I haven’t been there before. It was really fabulous. The billboards also said the museum had been redone. Thank you for reading, and have a great day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. Hopefully, if and when you visit, everything will be fully open. The town also had at least one mansion to tour and an historical downtown area which we did not see. It was a nice town. I didn’t realize this was only 5 1/2 hours from our home, so we may very well visit again. Enjoy your Saturday!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I like Ike. Of all his many accomplishments, I think the Interstate System is his best legacy. He saved the country then he changed the country. Your description reminds me of some of the experiences we are having with partial closures. Still it is worth seeing what is available. Maybe we will pass through Kansas on our way home this fall and stop there. Another wonderful post…happy days and safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yes, as travelers we greatly appreciate the Interstate System so very much. If you do visit there in the fall, maybe more of it will be open. It was worth it though even with the closures. The town also has an historical downtown which is on my list should we go there again. We spent about 3 hours there. So, if things are open and you visit – and are there longer – , I’m expecting to see a “Today’s Lunch Spot” post on Facebook. 🙂 Safe travels to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I absolutely love this – thank you for sharing your visit and tidbits about “Ike”. One of the books I’ve enjoyed reading is “Letters to Mamie” written during his time in Europe during WWII. Much like the exhibits you describe, it gave me an insight into his personality and his leadership of America during the war. Your post has made me aware that I need to add him to my biography reading list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you loved it. Thank you for telling me that. I will have to look for “Letters to Mamie.” He did write three books himself; they were on display at the museum. There was so much more in the museum. I enjoy learning about past presidents and hope to visit more presidential museums. I have heard great things about the Lyndon Johnson President Museum and Library in Texas. Thanks again for you comment, and enjoy your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks like a lovely place to visit. I am going to need to try to stop by sometime.

    That is the reason why I love coming to your blog, I find interesting places to go to. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Matcha. I believe it isn’t too far from you. I know you are busy, but it would make a great day trip. I really learned a lot about Eisenhower and the time period. Enjoy your Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Having visited the Truman museum in Independence, and the Gerald R. Ford one in Grand Rapids, I’d always hoped to visit the Eisenhower one and also FDR’s museum in New York. You’re giving me that “oomph” here to do it. 🙂 Looks like it was very interesting. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was very interesting. Even more than I could write in a post. I do think it best to visit when all of it (boyhood home, movies, visitor center) is open. You know, we go to Michigan every year; my dad was from Grand Rapids. So, now you’ve given me the “oomph” to see the Gerald R. Ford museum there as well. I really enjoy learning about the presidents in their museums. One of my favorites is the Lincoln museum in Springfield, Illinois. Thanks for reading and your comment. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Trying to get caught up. Fantastic blog that has inspired me to add yet one more place to my bucket list of places to visit.. I have to learn yet how to post side by side and group items, glad you figured it out. Thanks again for taking me to another wonderful historical site. These are the kind of sites I absolutely love to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you and Barbara are doing okay. We both really enjoyed the Eisenhower Presidential Museum. There was so much more I did not include. I thought of you when I took the picture of Ike’s staff car. I learned so much about Eisenhower; I didn’t really know a whole lot about him. Honestly, I didn’t even know his Presidential Museum was in Kansas. We saw the signs for it on our way to Colorado. So, while in Colorado, we made plans to visit it on our way home. I’m glad we did. It was a nice town with friendly folk. We ate dinner at Ike’s Cafe. But, of course. What other name would a local diner in Abilene have? They did him proud; it food and service were good.

      Like

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