The Washington Post

Letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s son disapproves of proposed memorial design

The long-simmering debate about the design for a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower continues with the release of a letter signed by the 34th President’s son, John S. D. Eisenhower. Dated Oct. 18, and released on the website of Eisenhower granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, the letter is addressed to Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, vice chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. The letter raises concerns about architect Frank Gehry’s design for the memorial, calling it “too extravagant.”

View Photo Gallery: The world-famous architect has adjusted his original design in response to criticism from the Eisenhower family.

It also veers off into a dispute with the memorial commission’s chairman Rocco Siciliano, who in an earlier letter (cited by the Associated Press) defended the Gehry design, arguing, “I am one person who feels competent to say that he believes President Eisenhower would be most pleased as to what the present commissioners have unanimously accepted.”

In the latest missive, John S.D. Eisenhower, 90, fires back at Siciliano, saying “I am astonished by Rocco Siciliano’s claim that his service in the White House gives him an unusual perspective on how my father would view this design.” Eisenhower continues, “Besides being Ike’s son…I would not make a claim like Mr. Siciliano’s.”

A statue of former President Dwight Eisenhower stands in front of U.S. flags projected onto the facade of the U.S. Embassy in London. (NEIL HALL/REUTERS)

Chris Kelley Cimko, a spokeswoman for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, said that the Commission “Respects the views of the family,” but she pointed out that Eisenhower grandson David Eisenhower had been a member of the Commission for a decade, during the development of the memorial and the selection of Gehry as its designer. David Eisenhower resigned from the Commission in December 2011, around the same time that his sisters (including Susan and Anne Eisenhower) began a concerted campaign against the Gehry design.

Philip Kennicott is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Art and Architecture Critic of The Washington Post. He has been on staff at the Post since 1999, first as Classical Music Critic, then as Culture Critic.


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