The Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum was quiet during my Sunday visit. I encountered one other person during my time there that wasn’t a volunteer or employee of the Library. Similar to Ike’s persona, this was an understated space whose architecture reflects the Eisenhower era and includes the house in which Ike grew up with his five brothers, parents and grandfather.
I started my visit at the Place of Mediation, which is the final resting place of Mamie, their son, Dowd and the President. Then there was a 30 minute movie on the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, it seemed there was more time spent on his military career than his presidency, but I did come away with Ike’s favorite motto and the Center’s favorite motto about Ike. Sitting on his presidential desk was a sign in latin that said, “Suaviter in modo, Fortiter in re”(Gentle in manner, Strong in deed). Repeatedly on my visit, I heard, “It was not the man who sought the job, but it was the job who sought the man”.
I had a timed ticket for a house tour, which would begin at 2:30pm. I did find it entertaining that even though I was one of two visitors on the 22-acre site, my Kansas hosts were not going to alter their scheduled movies or tours, but have me wait until the time had arrived as per my ticket. The guide to the house was well-informed and cordial. I learned many a fun fact about Ike and his family, including that his mother was an accomplished pianist who had a $400 piano hand-made for her with money she inherited at a time when a piano generally cost about $50. This appeared to be the one-big splurge in her life and in the house, which only got indoor plumbing the year before Ike left for West Point.
I hastily made my way through the Museum which had a heavy focus on WWII, but did include a gallery of 1950s artifacts and a gallery honoring Mamie Eisenhower. And of course there were loads of placards and buttons with that most famous of campaign slogans, “I Like Ike”. As it was Sunday, the library was closed. It was getting hot and humid, so I took my leave of Abilene.