David Dwight Eisenhower (later changed to Dwight David Eisenhower) was the third of seven sons. In his book The White House Years, Volume I: Mandate for Change, 1953-56
, Ike described his childhood: "The life we had together - my father, mother, brothers and I had been complete, stimulating, and informative, with opportunity available to us for the asking. We had been poor,
but one of the glories of America, at the time, was that we didn't know it. It was a good, secure, small-town life, and that we wanted for luxuries didn't occur to any of us."
The future 34th President of the United States graduated from Abilene High School in 1909. In 1911 he obtained an appointment to
the West Point Military Academy, graduating June 12th, 1915. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 19th Infantry, San Antonio, Texas. It was there in October 1915, that he met his future wife. Dwight D. Eisenhower's courtship of young Mamie was brief. They were formally engaged Valentine's Day 1916. The couple had originally planned a November wedding, but circumstances
forced them to move the date up several months. At 12 noon on July 1st, 1916, they were wed in the first-floor music room of the Doud family home at 750 Lafayette Street, Denver, Colorado. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend William Williamson, visiting from Leicester, England.
The newlyweds set
up housekeeping in Ike's bachelor quarters at Fort Sam Houston. Mrs. Eisenhower, who had been raised in prosperous surroundings, admitted that it was actually Ike who taught her to cook. It would be the first of more than thirty homes they would share, as necessitated by his military and political career. She often moved with Ike to various Army posts around the world as he quickly worked his way
up in the ranks. Conditions during the early years were sometimes less than ideal. One good example was their "home" in the Panama Canal Zone, which leaked during the frequent rains, and was infested with bats.
They had two sons, Doud Dwight Eisenhower, born September 24th, 1917, and John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower
, born August 3rd, 1922. Tragically, their first son died of scarlet fever at the age of three. His death remained an open wound from which the couple would never fully recover.
His distinguished military career included assignments
such as assistant executive to the assistant Secretary of War (1929-33), assistant to General Douglas MacArthur (1935-39), and supreme commander of European Allied Forces (1943-45). Following the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, Eisenhower became one of the most decorated military men in history. Not only were numerous prestigious honors bestowed upon him by the United States, but grateful nations
around the world lined up to confer their highest honors on him.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower next served as U.S. Army chief of staff (1945-48), and President of Columbia University (1948-53). December 19th, 1950, he was granted a leave of absence from Columbia University to serve as commander of North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Europe. May 31st, 1952 he retired from active service, and in July of '52, resigned from the Army to run for President.
Ending the war in Korea was one of his principal campaign promises. After his victory over Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson
, he set about fulfilling that promise. Ike laid the groundwork for ending the war, before he'd even taken office. In July of 1953, just months after his inauguration, he delivered on his campaign pledge, bringing the Korean War to an end.
Despite suffering a
heart attack September 24th, 1955, President Eisenhower was easily reelected in 1956. While serving his second term in office, he suffered a stroke (November 25th, 1957), but made a quick recovery. Under his leadership, the United States experienced an extended period of economic growth, low inflation, low taxes, peace and prosperity. Both in his military and political career, Eisenhower was
known as a superb administrator. He was a natural leader with an exceptional ability to organize, delegate authority, and mediate.
Eisenhower was responsible for signing legislation authorizing funding for the modernization and integration of American roads into a national interstate highway system. It
was a massive public works program that ranked amongst the largest in U.S. history.
September 11th, 1956, President Eisenhower founded People to People International to promote "international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of
ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. People to People International is dedicated to enhancing cross-cultural communication within each community, and across communities and nations. Tolerance and mutual understanding are central themes. While not a partisan or political institution, PTPI supports the basic values and goals of its founder,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower." The organization is also known for its presentation of the prestigious Eisenhower Medallion. The Eisenhower Medallion is presented to an internationally known individual or organization in recognition of their exceptional contribution to world peace and understanding.
Following two terms in the White House, the former President retired to his Gettysburg farm. Mamie had overseen the major reconstruction of the home, and they were finally able to actually enjoy some quiet time alone. They traveled extensively, Ike was able to really enjoy his golf, and they were both doting grandparents. While golfing February 6th, 1968, in Palm Springs, California, 77-year-old
former President Eisenhower achieved every golfer's dream. He scored a hole-in-one on the par 3, thirteenth hole at the Seven Lakes Country Club. Ike's health worsened as the 1960s progressed. He died March 28th, 1969, and Mamie died ten years later, November 1st, 1979.
Businessman Albert Pick, Jr.
said of him: "Mr. Eisenhower lived life to its fullest and left behind him an enviable record of greatness. He was a man of courage, a man of the highest integrity, a religious man, and a man of peace--truly a man of all
seasons." Selected writing credits: Crusade in Europe
(1948) Peace with Justice: Selected Addresses
(1961) The White House Years, Volume I: Mandate for Change, 1953-56
(1963) The White
House Years, Volume II: Waging Peace, 1956-61
(1965) At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends
(1967) In Review, Pictures I've Kept: A Concise Pictorial "Autobiography"
Golf, oil painting, fishing, hunting, skeet shooting, cooking, and in his youth, football.
Eisenhower took up painting late in life, and actually became quite skilled. He had a long-term correspondence with British Prime
Minister Winston Churchill who also enjoyed painting. One of Ike's most famous paintings was of Churchill, which demonstrated he'd become quite an accomplished artist in a very short time.