Eisenhower would be aghast

Eisenhower would be aghast

Ike would never have endorsed Trump's plans for a huge military parade, Miller Center historian William Hitchcock writes in USA Today

[Read the article at USA Today]

The last Army general to occupy the White House, Dwight D. Eisenhower, would be spinning in his grave if he knew that President Trump, a man who used a medical deferment to avoid combat service in Vietnam, was planning a giant military parade in Washington.

It’s not that Ike disliked a parade. In fact, he was honored with many of them. After leading the allied forces in Europe to victory in World War II, Eisenhower became the world’s most popular soldier, and cities competed to celebrate him. On June 12, 1945, Ike was hailed by the London crowds and given the Order of Merit by King George VI. Two days later, Parisians thronged the Champs-Elysées to greet Ike as he rode toward the Arc de Triomphe, where he received a decoration from the French president, Charles de Gaulle.

But nothing matched the parade that greeted Ike in New York City upon his return to the United States. On June 19, 4 million New Yorkers lined Fifth Avenue and Broadway to welcome the commander home, and they filled the air with ticker-tape and confetti. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia declared a holiday for city employees and urged everyone to go to the streets to cheer this ordinary, humble man who had brought Hitler’s hordes to their knees.

Eisenhower tolerated these parades. He understood that the public needed to celebrate victory after so much shared sacrifice. But he did not relish this kind of frenzy. Following the London parade, he spoke to the public at the Guildhall, the ancient seat of the city’s mayor. Rather than revel in the euphoria of victory, Eisenhower expressed his “feelings of profound sadness” that so many friends and loyal comrades had not lived to see the day of victory. Honors and parades, he said, “cannot soothe the anguish of the widow or the orphan whose husband or father will not return.”

When he took the microphone at New York’s City Hall, he sent a similar message. “There is no greater pacifist than the regular officer. Any man who is forced to turn his attention to the horrors of the battlefield, to the grotesque shapes that are left there for the burying squad — he doesn’t want war. He never wants it.” Even in a moment of triumph, Ike wanted to remind the crowd that war was a dirty, bloody business, full of destruction and pain.

As president, Eisenhower sought always to resist using military force. Six months into his first term in office, he agreed to an armistice in the Korean War. He refused to send more Americans to die in an unpopular war whose objective was unclear.

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