Today in history, December 20, 1944, Dwight D. Eisenhower Received his 5th General Star.
Ike’s military career began around September 1910, when he learned of an announcement of a competitive examination for applicants to the service academies. He also discovered that due to his age, 19, he was no longer eligible to enter the Naval Academy, his first choice. He took the exam and scored second among the eight candidates. When the highest ranking candidate failed the physical requirement, Eisenhower secured an appointment to West Point. Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in June 1911. He graduated in June 1915.
Second Lieutenant Eisenhower’s first assignment was at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In the years that followed Eisenhower’s duties included the Army’s 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy, the Tank Corps, the Battle Monuments Commission, football coaching, and training recruits for World War I.
His Panama service (1922-24) introduced him to General Fox Conner who took him under his wing and encouraged him to read widely in history, military science, and philosophy and was instrumental in Eisenhower’s acceptance by the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Eisenhower graduated first in the 1926 class of 245 officers.
After assignments in the War Department (1929-35), he accompanied Gen. Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines as an assistant military advisor; his principal duty was helping MacArthur and his staff develop a viable Filipino Army.
Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Eisenhower was again called to the War Department where Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall placed him in charge of plans for the Pacific War. Two months later, Marshall promoted him to chief of the War Plans Division where he received his second general’s star.
In June 1942, Marshall sent him to England on a special mission to build cooperation among the Allies as Commanding General, U.S. Army, European Theater. Eisenhower arrived in England on June 24, 1942, and except for a brief stateside visit in January 1944, he was separated from his family until June 1945, following the end of the war in Europe.
General Eisenhower served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from November 1945 until February 1948. He resigned from the Army on February 7, 1948 to serve as president of Columbia University.
In 1950, at President Truman’s request Eisenhower took a leave of absence from Columbia to command the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, during the following two years he would stay in touch with Columbia and especially with the American Assembly, a university innovation to which he had devoted substantial energy and time.
On June 1, 1952 Eisenhower returned to the United States to campaign actively for the presidency.
-from the Eisenhower Library
"During World War II, of course, I ate my share of SPAM along with millions of other soldiers. I’ll even confess to a few unkind remarks about it — uttered during the strain of battle, you understand."
-Eisenhower’s letter to the President of the Hormel Foods Board regarding SPAM
In 1966, Eisenhower wrote to H.H. “Tim” Corey (President and later Chairman of the Board of Hormel Foods) at the request of a mutual friend to recognize the 75th anniversary of the company. The tongue-in-cheek letter recounts Eisenhower’s remembrances of Spam during WWII.
PHOTO CAPTION: This unsigned file copy of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s letter to H.H. Corey was retained by his staff to document what he wrote.
-From the Eisenhower Library
On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
NASA absorbed the earlier National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) which was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 for aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958, the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel formed the core of the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Photo courtesy of NASA: President Eisenhower presents NASA Commissions to Dr. T Keith Glennan, right, as the first administrator for NASA, and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden as deputy administrator.
Ike Signs a “Short Snorter”
Sargent Griffith Harris of Cos Cob, Connecticut, holds his helmet while General Dwight D. Eisenhower signs his short-snorter. The General was on a flying trip to France. July 26, 1944.
During World War II, flight crews would sign a paper money bill together for good luck in the skies.
-from the Eisenhower Library
“How much money did President Eisenhower receive when he gave speeches outside the presidency?”
It was General Eisenhower’s practice to turn down honorariums. In a letter written in early 1961 to his older brother, Edgar Eisenhower, General Eisenhower writes, “I have made it a practice for years never to accept an honorarium for any talk; this policy I adopted right after World War II.”
He would reiterate the point again in 1963 by stating quite simply, “I never accept an honorarium” when invited to give the commencement at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia.
July 12, 1957: President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first president to ride in a helicopter. The logistical inefficiencies of presidential motorcades and taking off and landing Air Force One made the use of the helicopter (now known as Marine One) to transport the president a viable option. Eisenhower flew in a Bell Ranger H-13J, a two-seater, and was able to more easily travel to places such as his summer home in Rhode Island or Camp David in Maryland.
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Ike in The Merchant of Venice
April 23 was the birthday of William Shakespeare. Dwight Eisenhower, like most of us, spent time with Shakespeare in high school and even played a role in Abilene High School’s 1909 adaptation of The Merchant in Venice.
“Where is Mamie Eisenhower’s 1955 Chrysler limousine? I would like to see it again. I once installed some Secret Service equipment on it when Mrs. Eisenhower was using it after the presidency.”
This week’s “Ask and Archivist” question at the Eisenhower Library comes from Washington State. For the answer, read more here.
PHOTO CAPTION: On November 14, 1955, President Eisenhower rode through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the rear of a 1955 Chrysler Imperial limousine that was part of the White House fleet.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Archives holdings can contain many different records, including recipes. Here is a personal recipe for the Queen’s drop scones which President Eisenhower requested from her after a visit. This recipe is a staff favorite and invites the addition of chopped candied ginger in the batter to make a special treat to enjoy with a hot cup of tea.
Wonder if Eisenhower really used a teacup to measure flour for the Queen’s scones?