Archive for Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eisenhower model president for U.S.

September 24, 2008

A recent Lawrence Journal-World editorial said this about President Dwight Eisenhower: Many will agree that Dwight David Eisenhower, who grew up in Abilene, rates as one of Kansas' most distinguished sons. He had a brilliant career as a patriot, soldier and public servant.

Periodically, there are attempts to depict "Ike" as some sort of good old boy who just happened to be in the right place at crucial moments. They insult his intellect and his ability to organize and administer, but they seem to overlook his role in World War II victories in Europe, his achievements during two terms as our president, his leadership in NATO and his contributions after leaving the White House, including a stint as president of Columbia University.

The United States is now engaged in another presidential election and whoever is chosen to occupy the Oval Office for at least the next four years may face the greatest number of challenges in our history: our war effort, the economy, health care, our financial structure. Only the finest leadership will get us back onto the path that does the most good for the country and its citizens.

Our 2008 presidential selection would do well to go into the files and read, or re-read, Dwight Eisenhower's presidential farewell address to the nation on Jan. 17, 1961. The piece is often noted because of his pinpoint warnings about the dangers of a growing "military-industrial complex." But there is so much more in this treatise that could guide and inspire a new American president.

The outgoing president noted that despite the holocausts before and during World War II, "America is today the strongest, the most influential and the most productive nation in the world." Even in these troubled times we still can measure up in these categories, flaws and all.

Added Eisenhower: "Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment."

Eisenhower concluded his remarks with thoughts worthy of consideration by all U.S. presidents, including the one elected on Nov. 4:

"We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love."

America has fallen short of some of Ike's goals in recent years. But the United States has always displayed an uncanny ability to re-invent itself to meet the needs and challenges at home and abroad. This can happen again with the proper leadership and citizen involvement.

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