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Memorial for Ike a long time coming

Large columns, murals are latest snag

By The Mercury

We’re confident that Kansans and other admirers of former President Dwight Eisenhower will one day enjoy visiting a memorial in his honor on trips to our nation’s capital.

But we can’t begin to guess when that day will come.

Already, plans have been in the works for more than 15 years. That’s more time than he spent fighting the Nazis in World War II and as president — combined.

The latest setback came earlier this month when the National Capital Planning Commission, the organization that oversees plans for monuments in Washington, D.C., declined to approve the most recent design and called for revisions. According to the Associated Press, the planning commission’s chief objections involved the scale and the placement of limestone columns that would hold large stainless steel tapestries depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike’s boyhood.

The columns and tapestries would frame the 4-acre park honoring the former president, but in so doing, they apparently could obscure views of the U.S. Capitol. Statues of Gen. Eisenhower and President Eisenhower would stand in the center of the park.

The vote was the commission’s first formal decision on the design — or redesign — of architect Frank Gehry. Although representatives of the National Park Service and the General Services Administration supported the plan, they were in the minority of the 7-3 vote. The Eisenhower family, which has objected to other parts of Mr. Gehry’s plan, generally opposes the metal tapestries and the overall scale of the design. They contend its classical design and grandeur are out of character with the plainspoken and humble military commander and chief executive.

The commission has asked for updates on the plans in two months.

We don’t know whether the revisions will meet the commission’s approval, but it’s past time for a consensus on this memorial. Our guess is that Ike, who as a military leader and president made decisions of vastly greater significance than this one, would either be embarrassed or exasperated by the dustup surrounding this tribute to him.

Endless delays would be a disservice not only to his memory but to the aging military veterans who fought for him during World War II and the generation of Americans who remember his presidency.

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