TOPEKA — A great-grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower endorsed legislation Wednesday necessary to authorize installation of a $140,000 statue on the Capitol grounds honoring the Kansas native, World War II general and 34th president of the United States.
Merrill Eisenhower Atwater told members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee an Eisenhower bronze statue on a granite pedestal outside the Statehouse would symbolize what a person from Kansas could accomplish through commitment and service.
“Growing up dirt poor and struggling through life’s trials and tribulations, he became Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and then president,” Atwater said. “Eisenhower is an example to all in the country that come from an impoverished background … what hard work and true dedication can do to shape the world we live in.”
Atwater is chief operating officer of People to People International, a nonprofit organization started by Eisenhower in 1956.
The Senate committee is expected to vote on Senate Bill 262 today, but no one spoke in opposition to the measure.
The statue would be replica of the Eisenhower statute, designed by Lawrence artist Jim Brothers, that stands in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. It depicts Eisenhower in June 1944 while speaking to U.S. soldiers preparing to parachute into Normandy for the D-Day invasion.
John Milburn, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Administration, said the office of Gov. Sam Brownback had taken responsibility for coordinating private donations to the project.
Milburn said approximately $100,000 had been collected and no taxpayer dollars would be sought for acquisition or installation of the memorial. It’s possible the statue could be in place as early as October, he said.
Sens. Randall Hardy, R-Salina, and Sen. Elaine Bowers, R-Concordia, sponsored the Eisenhower bill and testified before the Senate committee that the project would be a fitting tribute.
“I am reminded of the important contribution that President Eisenhower made in Kansas and American history,” Hardy said. “Because of his devotion to Kansas and his enduring legacy in government, it is proper and fitting to honor him with a statue on the Statehouse grounds.”
Eisenhower was born in Texas in 1890 and moved as a child with his family to Abilene. He served in the U.S. Army, rising to five-star general. He was president from 1953 to 1961. The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is in Abilene, the city where Eisenhower was buried in 1969.