Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
DC Trip 2023➤
Washington, DC possesses the largest concentration of National Park Service units of any metropolitan area. I decided to use one of my long weekends in April to visit DC and check a few units off my list. I toured several memorials, monuments and other sites, including the new Eisenhower Memorial.
Creating the Memorial➤
Congress created the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission in 1999. It took years of hearings, design changes by Frank Gehry and input from Eisenhower’s descendants for the memorial to be approved. The dedication ceremony took place in September of 2020, a few months after the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
The commission chose a location amidst the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Aviation Administration, Voice of America, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — all institutions to which Eisenhower was closely connected. The memorial plaza features sculptures, quotations from Ike’s famous speeches, and an enormous metal tapestry. They represent the various phases of Eisenhower’s life and career.
At one plaza entrance stands a life-size sculpture of Eisenhower as a boy. Inscribed in stone nearby is an excerpt from Eisenhower’s Abilene Homecoming Speech on June 22, 1945. Before he was the General who helped defeat the Nazis or the 34th President, he was a ‘barefoot boy from Abilene’ with hopes and dreams. This entrance links his humble beginnings to his legacy.
In the plaza center, a statue grouping depicts General Eisenhower as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II. The artists modeled it after the famous photograph with the 101st Airborne Division before their jump into France. A bas relief depicting the Normandy landings on D-Day runs behind the sculptures.
Facing this grouping stands another display which commemorates Eisenhower as the 34th President of the United States. Civilian and military advisors flank the president, with Eisenhower balancing the two forces. The bas relief behind the sculptures symbolize Eisenhower’s internationalism and role as a world statesman.
A large transparent tapestry frames the memorial. It features an image of France’s Normandy coastline made from artistically woven stainless steel cable. It symbolizes the peace Eisenhower fought for in WWII and kept during his presidency.
The tapestry stands 60 feet tall and 447 feet long. It consists of 600 panels suspended from a stone colonnade. It is the largest steel tapestry ever created. Architect Frank Gehry chose this impressive element to add a wow factor to the park.
2023 DC Trip Posts➤
- Eisenhower Memorial
- Smithsonian Castle
- Washington Monument
- WWII Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- Vietnam Memorial
- The White House
- Constitution Gardens
- WWI Memorial
- Fords Theater
- Mount Vernon Mansion
- Mount Vernon Grounds
- Korean War Memorial
- Hampton House
Location: 540 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC
Designation: National Memorial
Date designated/established: September 17, 2020
Date of my visit: April 6, 2023