Opinion Columns & Blogs

Judy Burgess: Proud of Ike memorial

When it comes to the National Eisenhower Memorial, we Kansans have reasons to be proud.

We are proud of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kansas’ all-time favorite son. And we are very proud of the design for his presidential memorial, which will soon be built in Washington, D.C.

The memorial’s backdrop is infused with all the things we Kansans hold dear. Depicting the Eisenhower family homestead, the memorial celebrates the gorgeous rolling countryside and the wide-open sky that Ike knew and loved. The memorial’s statuary portrays Ike in the many facets of his life: as a young Kansan who dedicated his life to his country and freedom, as a brave and decisive general, and later as a visionary president who boldly led America through the Cold War and prepared it for the challenges of the 21st century.

I’m proud that the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts likes Ike’s memorial and the way in which it portrays our state. The commission has reviewed every aspect of the Eisenhower Memorial, and it gave its final approval of the design in June.

One of the things I am also proud of is the fact that our senior senator from Kansas, Pat Roberts, recently became chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. With Roberts at the helm, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, the overall memorial effort and the interests of Kansas are in excellent hands.

I’m proud that former Sen. Bob Dole, one of Kansas’ greatest leaders, and one of the visionaries behind the World War II Memorial, is working on the Eisenhower Memorial project. Dole understands the importance of Ike’s memorial and wants to ensure that it becomes a reality before the last of the soldiers who served under Eisenhower during World War II pass on.

Ike’s memorial has been underway for 15 years. What was once a dream is becoming a reality. As one of the original Eisenhower Memorial commissioners, Roberts has been a stalwart – a focused and driving force in this important effort.

Seventy-one years ago this past June, Eisenhower made the bold decision to send more than 150,000 Allied troops to storm the beaches of Normandy. Ike made that decision with strength, resolve and two powerful words that now apply to Roberts’ mandate to complete the National Eisenhower Memorial: “Let’s go!”

Judy Burgess of Wichita is a former mayor of Abilene and serves on the Eisenhower Memorial Commission advisory committee.