Dwight D. Eisenhower is one of the 20th century’s most influential figures. As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War II, he led the Allies to victory over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and maintained that peace as the nation’s 34th president as the United States emerged onto the global stage. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, the newest in the nation’s capital, pays tribute to this remarkable historic figure with heroic-sized bronze sculptures, stone bas reliefs, and quotations from his most famous speeches and addresses.
Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the memorial features three bronze statues of Eisenhower by sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov. The first portrays “Little Ike” in his boyhood and the inscription “…the proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene,” taken from the speech given to his hometown upon returning from World War II.
The second group of sculptures features General Eisenhower with troops from the 101st Airborne the day before the invasion of Normandy. Inspired by the famous photograph taken of Ike addressing the paratroopers as they prepared for battle, a bas-relief depicting the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944 appear behind the statues. The final sculpture group depicts President Eisenhower in the White House surrounded by civilian and military advisors with a bas-relief map of the world symbolizing Eisenhower’s internationalism and role as a world statesman.
Framing the entire memorial is a first-of-its-kind stainless steel woven tapestry by artist Thomas Osinski, which depicts the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on the Normandy coastline during peacetime. Captured by U.S. Army Rangers on D-Day, the peacetime depiction of the cliffs on the tapestry represents not only the peace Eisenhower won as Supreme Allied Commander, but the peace he kept and maintained as president. At 447 feet long and 60 feet tall, the tapestry spans the entire southern perimeter of the memorial, suspended from a stone-clad concrete colonnade. It is comprised of more than 600 miles of stainless steel cable held together by more than 87 million individual welds and is particularly stunning after dark.
The memorial is located in a newly created, four-acre public park along Independence Avenue SW between 4th Street SW and 6th Street SW, across from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (and easily accessible from the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station). The site is surrounded by several federal agencies that have roots in the Eisenhower administration, including the Department of Education; Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Health, Education and Welfare), Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, NASA and Voice of America.
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial is administered as part of part of the National Park Service’s National Mall and Memorial Parks and is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. National Park Service rangers provide programs for visitors and answer questions. A small visitor contact station includes restrooms and an America’s National Parks bookstore. For more information, including an audio tour and photographs of the new memorial, visit nps.gov/ddem.