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Judy Burgess: Ike was liked at State Fair

  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, at 12 a.m.

In case you missed it, this year’s Kansas State Fair featured a very special surprise guest: President Dwight David Eisenhower. The 34th president and former supreme allied commander welcomed visitors to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission’s award-winning booth at the fair.

Nearly a thousand visitors had their photos taken alongside a life-size likeness of Ike, and 10,000 of those visitors took home a very special memento of their visit to Ike’s booth – campaign buttons and magnets proclaiming “I Still Like Ike.” Many went home and “liked” Ike’s memorial on Facebook, and hundreds of the photos taken with Ike are now showcased on the Facebook page.

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission is entrusted with building a national memorial honoring Eisenhower. Depicting Ike’s dual roles as president and general against a backdrop of his Kansas roots is a big job. The memorial will be built alongside the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Air and Space Museum and just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran are members of the commission, so the effort is in great hands.

I had the pleasure of volunteering in Ike’s booth. I learned a lot talking to the folks who visited the booth. Kansans don’t just “like Ike,” they are incredibly proud of both his Kansas origins and his global legacy. Many of them shared their own Ike stories.

It’s easy to understand why the memorial to Ike is being built, and it’s exciting to learn that his legacy will permanently live on in new and innovative ways, like the soon-to-be unveiled online E-Memorial.

We in Kansas are fortunate to have a great deal of access to Ike’s legacy. The Eisenhower Presidential Library – one of only 13 presidential libraries in the nation – is located in Abilene. And many Kansans speak reverently of having attended Eisenhower’s funeral, also in Abilene.

When that glorious memorial is completed a few years from now, make sure to visit our very own piece of Kansas in Washington.

Judy Burgess of Wichita is a former mayor of Abilene.

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