Seeing Ike

As I write, I’m watching some talking head being interviewed by Andrea Mitchell, passionately arguing that the current situation in Afghanistan is the problem of the last three American administrations, leaving the Bush administration, which started this, out of the problem.  The problem, basically, the guy suggests, is Obama and Biden missteps.  I gather, he was an advisor in the room with #45, who basically seems to get a pass, after four years on the job.

Advisors give often conflicting advice, and argue their positions passionately.  Bush, Obama, #45, and Biden, and every President, are the ones left to make the final decision…and be crucified or idolized by one side or another…like the persuasive sounding idiot I was listening to this morning.  Truman’s sign on the desk, “The Buck Stops Here”, was accurate.

Just another day in disinformation, this time presented persuasively – but nonetheless BS.

History is  a good teacher.  Endings of wars are messy.  WWII was not a pleasant memory to Germans, and it was years till it recovered, thanks to things like the Marshall Plan.  Millions of Americans had German ancestry, including myself.

While you’re deciding which talking head to believe, if you’re old enough to remember, think back to the end of other wars – WWI, Vietnam, Iraq, Korea et al – and the abundant lessons to learn from them, among which is that wars are never really won; they simply take a break til the next war, premised on the excuse of the day.


I headline this post “Seeing Ike” because of a recent question answered about the President I knew as a kid.

I was 12 when Dwight Eisenhower was elected President.  He was, of course, hero of heroes in WWII.  He was President until I was well into my college years.

I liked Ike.

Ike could have run for President as either a Republican or Democrat.

For years I have remembered the single time I actually saw Eisenhower in person, in a motorcade in Minot ND.  I thought it was in 1953, when I had just turned 13, just out of 7th grade.

Little more than a week ago, August 18, I decided to try to find out if my memory was accurate, and I decided to ask a question of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene Kansas, a place I had actually visited with my Dad in 1983.

I was amazed at the fast turnaround, and the precisely presented answers to my question.

With thanks to Linda Smith at the Library:  “Thank you for your inquiry.  President Eisenhower did visit Minot, ND, on June 10, 1953..  According to our trip database, he made a trip to the northern states of Minnesota and North Dakota.  Here is what the log says about the trip:

First stop – Minneapolis, MN, then to American Swedish Institute to receive local Republican leaders, then to auditorium to give address before the convention of the Natl. Junior Chamber of Commerce, on to Minot, ND to the Clarence Parker Hotel, in the evening DDE greeted GOP leaders meeting at the hotel, remained overnight.

I responded back to her: “Thank you.  It is odd how certain things stick in ones mind – lodged there for years and years.  I remembered the then-Air Force One flying in from the southeast.  Of course, it wasn’t the current edition!  

We lived in a rural town – Karlsruhe – perhaps an hour away, and my guess is that we weren’t in Minot for Ike’s visit – rather, I had broken my leg some months earlier and was probably in Minot to have the cast taken off.  Of course, [in June, 1953] Ike was in the first months of his first term as President.  
I was a senior in college when his second term ended in 1961.  So I can say my formative years were primarily during the times of Dwight Eisenhower, including driving on one of the first completed stretches of the Interstate system (from Jamestown to Valley City) in 1958.  It was so new that the construction the shoulders had not been completed, even on the opened stretch.  I remember they liked to talk about it costing a million dollars a mile!

I sent a note to my siblings with a little more: “To a few of you who I think would find this of interest.  Start at the end and work up. 

Wiki says Eisenhower’s Air Force One was a Lockheed C-121 Constellation.  I truly do remember watching its approach over Minot.  I seem to recall our vantage point was outside a large brand new movie theatre in town.  [A friend who later was at Minot Air Force Base noted the theater was the Empire.]
I’m old enough to remember Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.  I was not yet five when Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945.
There is not much more to say.  Every opinion is right, and every opinion is wrong, and that is all there is, opinions.
My consistent narrative since 2001 is that it was a mistake to go into Afghanistan in the first place.
President Biden has the fortitude, the experience and the common sense to say ‘enough is enough’.  I hope for an August 31 exit.
There are different ways to solve problems.  They’re very long term, and they aren’t dramatic.
War is never the answer.
In fact, you don’t have to look far to find out that Eisenhower would share my opinion.


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