Over two decades in the making, Frank Gehry's design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. will finally open to the public this Friday. A tribute to the 34th President of the United States, the memorial was commissioned by Congress in 1999 to honor the legacy of the World War II Supreme Allied Commander. Eisenhower is well known for leading the invasion of Normandy, a turning point in the war, and for serving two terms as President of United States.
The dedication of the memorial marks the culmination of many years of work between the Gehry and the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, as well as designers, artists, construction teams and others that brought the Memorial project to reality. Located in a four-acre public park adjacent to the National Mall, it's sited across the street from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The memorial features three bronze sculptures of Eisenhower by sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov, stone bas relief images and inscription panels. Framing the entire park and Memorial is a stainless steel woven tapestry by artist Tomas Osinski, which depicts the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on the Normandy coastline in peacetime.
Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, noted that, "I am proud to honor Kansas' favorite son with the unveiling of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. This memorial pays tribute to Ike's historic leadership as both Supreme Allied Commander and the 34th President of the United States, who hailed from Abilene, Kansas. The Eisenhower Memorial not only commemorates the life and legacy of an extraordinary man; it also stands as a symbol for all generations of the promise of America and what our values make possible here and around the world."
The memorial will be dedicated tomorrow, Thursday, September 17th. Dedication plans will follow CDC guidelines for events and gatherings, allowing for appropriate social distancing at the outdoor Memorial. The dedication will also be live-streamed so those not physically present can mark the moment. The memorial was originally scheduled to be dedicated on May 8, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V–E) Day, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Following the dedication, the National Park Service will assume operation of the Memorial, which opens to the public on Friday, September 18.