Dwight D Eisenhower

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Dwight's Early Life

Dwight D. Eisenhower was the third son of David and Ida Stover Eisenhower. He was born in 1890 in Denison, Texas, and named David Dwight Eisenhower, although he was known as Dwight David by many. In 1891, the family moved to Abilene, Kansas, where Eisenhower was brought up. He was the third of seven sons. He and his older brothers were all called "Ike" by their family, Eisenhower was known as "Little Ike". In his high school years, he was known to excel in sports due to his active nature. After he graduated, Eisenhower wanted to attend college, but his family could not afford the tuition. Dwight and his brother planned to switch off between work and college every year in order to pay for each other's tuition and allow them to both complete their education. In 1910, Eisenhower found that he could get a free college education at United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The prerequisite for obtaining such involved passing a difficult exam. While Eisenhower had no original plans to be a soldier, he still prepared well for the competitive West Point entrance exam and won an appointment to the school in 1911.

The Coming of a Commander in Chief

Unknown to him at the time, Eisenhower would later lead many military forces though the course of both world wars, winning decisive victories and helping push America forward even before his own presidency. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Eisenhower was promoted in the army and assigned to training duty for new cadets. He desperately wanted to see action during the war, and applied for an overseas assignment. His own skill would prevent him from participating in battle during that war. Higher officers saw the ability that he had as an organizer and trainer, and put him in command of Camp Colt at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, instead of granting his overseas request. One of the army's first tank corps was being formed there, and Eisenhower trained the fighting unit. In the October of 1918 he finally got orders to take his units overseas, to France, but the war ended before he could leave America. Although disappointed at having missed combat, Eisenhower was recognized by his superiors for his efforts during the war. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal following the submission of German forces.

After gaining much respect in the military field for his accomplishments during World War I, Eisenhower was assigned to many posts, where he became acquainted with George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, both prominent military figures. Becoming familiar with these men proved to be an asset in Eisenhower's military career. Before the entrance of America into World War II, he found himself promoted to the rank of brigadier general.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment. Eisenhower impressed both the general as well as The President (Theodore Roosevelt) with his well thought out plan to focus on weakening Germany before assaulting the Japanese. Because of this, he was placed in command of the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942. On D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France. After heading many decisive victories for the U.S., Eisenhower accepted Germany's surrender on May 7, 1945. He returned home a national hero.

Eisenhower's Term in Office (1952-1960)

After the war, he became President of Columbia University, then left to assume the first position of supreme commander over the new NATO forces being assembled in 1951. In 1952, Eisenhower resigned from the army to campaign in the presidential election that year. Both major parties wanted him to represent them in the presidential race, but in the end, Eisenhower ran for president as a Republican, favoring their conservative values. His prestige as commanding general of the victorious forces in Europe during World War II, no doubt, helped him into office. Becoming the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower had plans for the nation that he had fought for so many times in the past.

Both terms of his presidency proved to be difficult for him, primarily because of the events which were taking place in the world at that time. The strains of the Cold War weighed heavily upon America's shoulders, the U.S. economy at the time also needed to be carefully monitored, and the new tension caused by the Civil Rights movement proved difficult issues to deal with. After he was inaugurated, one of the first things he did was to sign a truce that ended the Korean War. During his first term, Eisenhower also made the decision of refusing to send U.S. support to aid the French in Vietnam, thus easing international tensions. He still kept up the policy of containment, even though he was trying to improve relations with the Soviet Union. This would become especially important for him when both countries developed hydrogen bombs. With such a destructive force looming about the world, Eisenhower met with Russia, France and Britain in 1955. At the conference, Eisenhower tried to negotiate with Russian officials on sharing information about each other's military bases and arsenals in order to ease the tensions of The Cold War. The Russians disagreed, but the meeting still ended on a positive note, despite their refusal.

In 1956, Eisenhower ran and won again in the presidential election. During his second term, he used federal troops to enforce school desegregation in the Little Rock Central High School incident. That same year he signed a Civil Rights Act. He signed yet another in 1960. The President was a strong believer in the Civil Rights movement throughout his term, writing once in a letter, "There must be no second class citizens in this country." Eisenhower was also in office when U.S. entered the space age with its first successful launching of a satellite into orbit.

Before he left office in January 1961 for his farm in Gettysburg, he urged the necessity of maintaining an adequate military strength, but cautioned that "vast, long-continued military expenditures could breed potential dangers to our way of life." He pursued the moderate policies of Modern Republicanism, pointing out as he stepped down from the Presidency, "American is today the strongest, most influential, and most productive nation in the world." He died March 28, 1969.

Not much more needs to be said about how this individual impacted, influenced, and improved America. Dwight D. Eisenhower proved himself to be a man who was true to his country, as there were few times in his life where he was not actively serving The United States. Helping our nation though two harsh wars as a trainer and commander, and attempting to tackle issues of great proportions during his presidency showed the strength, determination, and the great efforts put forth by this man to help shape the U.S. into the country that it is today.

1. Joann P. Krieg. Dwight D. Eisenhower Soldier, President, Statesman. Greenwood Press. Westport, Conn. 1987.

2. Clarefield, Gerard. Security with Solvency: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Shaping of the American Military Establishment. Westport, CT, Praeger, 1999.

3. Divine, Robert A. Eisenhower and the Cold War. New York, Oxford University Press, 1981.

4. Broadwater, Jeff. Eisenhower and the Anti-Communist Crusade. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

5. (Document) Beasley, Charles A. Grant and Eisenhower: A Comparative Study of the Soldier Turned Political Leader. Carlisle Barracks, PA, Army War College, March 1991.

6. (Periodical) Barclay, C. N. Dwight David Eisenhower 1890-1969: A Tribute to the Supreme Allied Commander, 1942-45. Army Quarterly 98
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