McALLEN – The book IKE 1890-1990 is called a pictorial of his history and life.
As a soldier, statesman and president, he played a part in world history that has rarely been matched in its scope and purpose, wrote the author, Douglas Kinnard.
This book is so readable in its 180 pages that nearly everyone who wants to read about Dwight David Eisenhower will really enjoy it. You can find it at the McAllen Memorial Library.
Eisenhower's strong honesty and willingness to take the blame for mistakes are extremely rare for most men in charge anywhere. The best example is that he kept taking the blame, in case the D-Day operations failed.
Ike wrote this postdated note just before the invasion. He concealed it from others and kept it in his wallet.
His brief note said, "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
This writer feels that Eisenhower was one of the best of all American presidents. An election is coming soon. The herd of many candidates, plus one current president running for re-election, will have to go a long way to be anywhere near where President Ike was.
Ike knew war so well, having served in both world wars, that he became famous for meeting people of foreign countries rather than going to war with them. He had a big list of people including especially the Russians instead of fighting them, reasoning not to.
I only saw Ike once in person, when he rode the length of the Valley to the dedication of the new dam at Falcon Lake. I saluted him when he went past in an open car in blistering heat. He waved back to everybody, including me, and suffered a terrific sunburn, but still the soldier who wouldn't quit when he was hurting. My grandfather, like Ike, had served during both world wars.
Later, Ike was in the same hospital in Denver on the same floor with my grandfather, Samuel Amos McKone Sr. of Lawrence, Kan. Grandpa chatted with the president a few times when they were both waiting for surgery and lived long lives afterward. I think that was the happiest thing in my grandfather's life when they chatted together like equals. Eisenhower was one of the best people to talk to other people, whoever they were.
My grandfather was 66 years old and an officer in the 2nd World War when he nearly died while he was preparing to inspect his infantry division's weapons before going to Europe. Grandpa beat the odds and lived to be 94.
"I like Ike" was a great nickname for him. He must have shaken thousands of hands just in the time he came to the Valley that one occasion and got a terrific sunburn, but refused to put on a hat while he was waving to thousands of people.
Unlike most heads of state, Ike was mourned by people around the world. French papers proclaimed, "Ike the liberator is dead!"
I regret that this is just a taste of Eisenhower's long, productive life. Born in 1890, he died in 1969 at age 78. There are many books about him. Every time I pick one up, I learn something new about him and his triumphs. I hope the next president will have read at least this excellent story and some others, a few big ones, so they will learn to be a man like Ike.