Groundbreaking set for Eisenhower
memorial in Washington, D.C.
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[November 02, 2017]
By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ground will be
broken on Thursday for the Dwight W. Eisenhower National Memorial after
years of opposition to the design and size of the $150 million monument
to the late U.S. president, including from his granddaughter Susan
Eisenhower who once referred to it as a "theme park."
Congress approved the memorial in 1999, but opposition to the plans by
architect Frank Gehry stalled it for years. Criticism focused on
eight-story-high columns supporting a steel tapestry portraying the
Kansas prairies where Eisenhower grew up.
In 2014, a House of Representatives' committee report referred to the
memorial a "five-star folly" plagued by rising costs, construction
delays and design flaws.
The president's family removed its objections last year after Gehry
reduced the size and changed the tapestry's image from Kansas farmland
to Normandy beaches to better reflect Eisenhower's international
Gehry's plan got final approval from Washington's planning and arts
commissions this fall.
The ceremonial groundbreaking will mark the start of construction of the
four-acre (1.6-hectare) memorial, which supporters have said is a
fitting tribute to the 34th president and World War Two Allied
"This is long overdue. This is a man who freed Western Europe from
tyranny and then gave us eight years of peace and prosperity," Kansas
Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the memorial's commission, said by
[to top of second column]
Architect Frank Gehry arrives from the Cross Hall of the White House
prior to a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in Washington,
U.S., November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Roberts, a Republican, said the monument near the National Mall was
expected to be completed in 2020 in time to mark the 75th
anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Some critics remain.
"It's a national embarrassment that we are building a grandiose,
inscrutable and ugly memorial that virtually no one likes," Justin
Shubow, president of the National Civic Art Society, said in an
Congress, which had long refused to fund the project, allocated $45
million for construction in the current fiscal year.
The administration of President Donald Trump is asking for another
$40 million next year, and Roberts said the Eisenhower commission
was halfway to its goal of raising $35 million in private funds.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins)
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