DC has it’s share of great man memorials. And 2020 has been a year of controversy with many monuments throughout the US toppled and many more proposed to be removed.
Thus it seems fitting that after 20 years of feuding, the last great man memorial in our generation – the Eisenhower tribute is unveiled.
It was supposed to open in May on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, but due to the pandemic, that date was postponed until last Friday. And it’s the Normandy invasion that is featured front and center over the 4 acre tract. The 450 foot wide x 60 foot tall stainless steel tapestry supported by six 80-foot stone-clad columns depict the steep Pointe du Hoc cliffs of Normandy
During the day the tapestry that covers the Department of Education is too abstract and not very clearly defined. But at night, the stainless steel fabric comes to life illuminating the bronze statues of Eisenhower speaking to the 101st Airborne paratroopers and his second Inaugural Address.
Carved in neo-classical Roman typeface is the Dwight D Eisenhower name, irradiated on the soft Indiana limestone.
You actually start the tour off 6th Ave SW and Maryland with a life-size sculpture of Eisenhower in his youth in Abilene, Kansas as he looks ahead into the future. Little did he know then he would rise to become Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II and the 34th President of the United States. Nothing, though was mentioned about the Federal Aid Highway Act and the 41,000 mile network of interstate highways that would change the nation.
World-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry faced many challenges in his bold design such as the 4-acre tract off busy Independence Ave and proximity to DOE.
Despite fierce criticism and negative reaction from the public, Gehry did a remarkable job highlighting Eisenhower’s accomplishments and the view of the tapestry at night as well as it’s deft layout providing an unobstructed view of the U.S. Capitol building is noteworthy indeed.