During the middle of the 20th century, the United States completed its transformation into one of the world’s superpowers, and few were as instrumental in this development as Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), renowned for being the nation’s principal commanding general during World War II and the president who served during the early, tumultuous Cold War years.
A career military man, Ike was too young to serve in combat during World War I, but he began a long and productive career collaborating with future military legends George Patton and Douglas MacArthur while serving some of the nation’s other famous generals, including George Marshall and John J. Pershing. Amazingly, he had never served in anything but administrative positions before World War II.
Eisenhower remained mired in middle management positions until George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army, took notice of his skills and began promoting him. By 1942, Eisenhower was given the role of appointed Supreme Commander Allied (Expeditionary) Force in North Africa, and after his success there, Eisenhower oversaw the invasion of Sicily in 1943, which at the time had been the largest amphibious invasion in history.
With those successes, President Roosevelt picked Eisenhower to be the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, leaving him in charge of Operation Overlord and the defining moment of his military career, D-Day. Like many before him, his successes in the war made him a natural candidate for president, and he was offered plum political spots by both parties before winning the presidency as a Republican in 1952.
Despite being one of America’s oldest presidents, Eisenhower redefined the public relations nature of the office, in addition to positioning America during the Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union. But Eisenhower’s most lasting contribution as president was the construction of the interstate highway system, and it was in the final year of his presidency that his administration planned and implemented the Apollo space program that would land men on the Moon in 1969.
History in 30: The Life of Dwight D. Eisenhower provides a quick but comprehensive look at the life of the general and president.
©2017 Percy Bennington (P)2017 Percy Bennington