We the People: Ike, a stellar example

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid.”

History does not necessarily reward the bold or foolhardy with success.  A great president Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized that careful planning and respectful negotiation did not make a leader weak or timid.  He took a penchant for planning for battle to the Oval Office without any political experience.

Hopefully, Donald Trump may look at a biography of Ike and draw inspiration before he is responsible for the safety and welfare of all Americans. Ike was an “accidental” candidate who defeated Adlai Stevenson in 1952 in a landslide.

Eisenhower as commander of U.S. troops in Europe led the Allied invasion of French North Africa and the invasion of mainland Italy. Eisenhower displayed a genius for leading alliances work and coordinating military forces.  As commander of the Supreme Headquarters the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe, he led the D-Day force that landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

His steadfast leadership and tireless work before and after D-Day assured the success of the operation. By the end of the war, Eisenhower was an expert in intelligence gathering and analysis, and adept at administratively providing for millions of soldiers and tens of millions of civilians dependent on his leadership. He was NATO’s first supreme allied commander, and his personality and ability assured the alliance’s success.

Eisenhower’s outrage at the isolationism espoused by the GOP, especially Ohio Senator Robert Taft, led him to seek office. He believed NATO was essential to the security of the west and therefore to the security of America and he entered the race for the Republican nomination in 1952.

As president, he delegated responsibility to maximize efficient government but made all major decisions. His success was not because he was shrewd but because he developed shrewd plans that addressed sensibilities of situations and organized efforts to accomplish goals. The “Eisenhower Era,” from 1953-1963, was a decade of peace and prosperity and recovery from bitter political and ideological conflicts of the 1930s and 1940s.

He believed that American national security required containment of Communist expansion but he cut military spending because he believed excessive defense spending would weaken the economy in the long run which would be counterproductive to the security of the nation.

Eisenhower cut the federal budget, largely by controlling defense expenditures. When his Secretary of Defense proposed enormous Pentagon spending, Eisenhower slashed the budget. He reduced uniformed personnel from 3.6 million in 1953 to 2.5 million in 1960 and cut 300,000 civilian jobs in defense. The military budget dropped from $43.8 billion in 1953 to $41.3 billion in 1960, or from 12.0 percent of GDP to 8.2 percent.

He warned the nation against depending on an economy based on a military-industrial complex in his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961. Eisenhower was the epitome of duty, honor, sacrifice and restraint. If our president-elect can adopt some of the common sense and appreciation of cooperative effort, we may enjoy freedom with a renewed commitment to national greatness in the coming years.

Duty, honor and sacrifice were recognized in Washington, D.C. on Veterans Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by General Charles Bolden who poignantly remarked that the nation marks “the sacrifices of those who have chosen to serve” in the monuments to the fallen.  They remind us of “the best of our nation who left their homes and towns large and small to take up arms, so we might live in freedom.”

The volunteers and conscripted who made the ultimate sacrifice so that all Americans could live in freedom, he continued, “gave their lives not just for the present, but for the future, for their own children and grandchildren and millions of faces they would never see, millions of souls that they would never meet, for future generations, who would share with them the most sacred and important title anyone could have the privilege to hold … the title of American.”

Now that Election Day has passed, it is time for the people to act in similar fashion and let Mr. Trump try to be a president for all Americans.  It is proper to protest but there will come a time when the protests must be made to decisions made, not to the democratic decision of the American people to elect Mr. Trump.  If we live in a democracy, then even when an unpopular person is elected we have to allow him to discharge the responsibilities of the office.

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