WASHINGTON – The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial has opened to the public, just off the National Mall in Washington, closing out two decades of drama, feuds and funding fights over the tribute to the 34th president.
First approved by Congress in 1999, the memorial cost $145 million, according to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. Some $15 million of that was raised through private donors, and the rest was appropriated by Congress.
The memorial, opened on Friday, is intended to honor Eisenhower’s legacy as the supreme Allied commander in Europe during World War II and his eight-year presidency and sits just south of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It was supposed to open in May, but the ceremony and opening were delayed by the pandemic.
The centerpieces of the memorial are two limestone and bronze scenes — one of Eisenhower as a top military general and another of him as president. There is also a statue of a young Eisenhower sitting with his knees folded to his chest.
Towering above the limestone and bronze scenes stands a 450-foot-wide and 60-foot-tall stainless steel tapestry that depicts the Normandy cliffs that U.S. soldiers had to scale during the D-Day invasion.
Park rangers, volunteers and employees with the Trust for the National Mall wore “I Like Ike” face masks, a nod to Eisenhower’s presidential campaign slogan.
The memorial was designed by architect Frank Gehry, who designed the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.