March 23, 2012

Regarding the March 21 Style article “Which ‘Ike’ to like?”:

I doubt that there will ever be a successful conclusion to the controversy over the proposed memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower. We seem to refight the battle between “art” and “image” for every proposed public statue or memorial in Washington. Recent examples include the Martin Luther King Jr. and Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials, and debates stretch back in my memory to Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Ultimately, there is usually a compromise that satisfies no one. 

Eisenhower is an interesting case, because although he was a great military leader and president, he was not a heroic battlefield commander. I would think that his legacy would be better served by establishing a scholarship program, similar in inspiration and scope to the Rhodes scholarship program.

Eisenhower was instrumental in the formation of modern Europe — as the commander of the Allied forces that liberated Western Europe, as the first Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and as president during the Cold War. Establish a scholarship program in his name that allows students from the Americas and Europe to study abroad in each other’s countries. That would be a better legacy for Eisenhower than another pile of stones cluttering up the District’s monumental core.

Marshall Snyder, Vienna

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Philip Kennicott’s March 21 Style article on the criticism of the proposed Eisenhower memorial design was patronizing. (We already knew what Mr. Kennicott thought about the design, thanks to his Dec. 18 Sunday Arts critique, “The ‘barefoot boy’ and the stepped-on toes.”)

To assume that opponents of the design are “architectural traditionalists” or “conservatives” who can’t appreciate “modern” design is preposterous. Yes, some may prefer something more traditional, but critics, including the Eisenhower family, also object to the proposed memorial’s scale and to the memorial’s relationship to the urban fabric of the Mall and the larger urban context.

In a commentary on the design [“Gehry’s design for Eisenhower memorial misses the mark,” Real Estate, Jan. 28], Roger K. Lewis, The Post’s longtime writer of articles relating to the urban milieu, took issue with it for these same reasons. One might question whether the design would memorialize Frank Gehry more than Eisenhower.

Linda Dunyan, Washington