More than sixteen years ago on a January day in Washington the General arose and said, “Since this century’s beginning, a time of tempest has seemed to come upon the continents of the earth.” The General, who had become President of the United States, was Dwight David Eisenhower. Now he has marched from our midst, and the tempest has grown worse. It is well to recall that he never quit smiling. Gloom overtook the spirit of the earth, but the General’s signal to mankind shone like a flame and left a gentle glow in the world.
He himself probably never realized the power of that smile, which was something like a quiet banner flying from a tough garrison. For that matter, he never seemed to understand how much the people cared for him. Ike had faith in the people, for in the truest sense he was always one of them; and they responded by trusting him.
Eisenhower was a soldier in quest of peace, and history will accord him a prominent place among the “men of good will” in the earth. In a strongly critical review of Ike’s book Waging Peace, Henry Kissinger of the Washington Post, after maintaining that the President’s “abstract and excessive moralism” had clouded his world-view, said, “Still, when all is said, one is left with a residue of good will, dedication, efficiency—of an honorable and decent man striving devotedly for peace in the world with only the welfare of mankind, as he saw it, as his aim” (The Washington Post, Oct. 17, 1965). This was one of Ike’s finest qualities, and perhaps the secret of his power over people. He was a great and good man, and even critics had to salute his moral manhood.
The General was downgraded by some for his handling of government affairs. But time may show that character is even more important ...1
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