WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — After more than two decades of careful planning, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial goes public on Thursday.
“I never thought it would take 21 years, but I’m damn glad it’s happening now,” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kas., said. “The memorial is a beautiful memorial. I think this is what Eisenhower would have wanted.”
Roberts spearheaded the project and says the site is an overdue tribute to the 34th president and five-star general who led the nation to victory in World War II.
“We had eight years of peace and prosperity,” Roberts said. “I think he waged war, but he waged peace. And I think his example, I think it really and directly affects where we are today.”
The memorial features bronze statues highlighting Eisenhower’s life and legacy, including his humble beginnings in Kansas.
“He closed saying, ‘the proudest thing I can say in my life is I come from Abeline,’ so Kansans, we regard him as our native son and very proud of him,” Roberts said.
Eisenhower will be the seventh U.S. president to have a memorial in the nation’s capital.
The 4-acre site is just steps away from the National Mall and a short walk from the World War II Memorial.
“So, they can salute their commander in chief, now that can happen,” Roberts said.
Victoria Tigwell, the deputy chair of the memorial commission, says she’s excited and hopes the memorial inspires all who come.
“Look at the things Eisenhower did — The interstate highway system, and he paid for it. He put satellites up in space. His accomplishments were forward looking,” Tigwell said.
“I think history is taking a new look at Ike and what he accomplished, but I hope they always say he came from Abeline, Kansas.”
Organizers expect a crowd of roughly 200 people on Thursday.
Because of COVID-19, the event was dialed down substantially and was originally planned for May.
Attendees will be require to wear a mask and social distance.
For those can’t participate the event will be streamed online.