From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eisenhower, Martin and John

Eisenhower in the Oval Office
As Russell Baker recently pointed out on the Coast to Coast radio show - today is not only Martin Luther King Day, but it is also the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech. Although Baker strung these events together like pearls on a specific necklace, the pearls of wisdom within Eisenhower’s speech seem universally shiny.

This speech has come to be known as Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex Speech because it prophetically warns the nation of the dangers that such a union entails.  Eisenhower’s knowledge of these dangers was born of arduous firsthand experience.  He who had been a five-star general in the United States Army, as well as the World War II supreme commander of the European Allied Forces, ultimately concluded:  I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Highlights from Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation include the following:

…America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and material strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.

You and I - my fellow citizens - need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. 

This stirring address ends with a prayer, not only for Americans, but for "peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations..."  This emphasis upon faith in God had been an overriding theme throughout much of Eisenhower's
life.  His mother had been a devoted member of the Mennonites, and then of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Eisenhower himself, who had lobbied for the insertion of the phrase “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance - as well as for the phrase “In God We Trust” onto the currency, was eventually baptized into the
Presbyterian Church.

With the words of Eisenhower’s prayerful speech still ringing across the land, the mantle was passed on to America’s first Catholic president.  John, Martin, and countless others were then left to carry on the noble ideals that unprecedented numbers of Ike’s generation had fought and died for.    


Copyright January 17, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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