Soldiers carried the flag-draped coffin through the nave. They carried it beneath the individual flags of the Republic, between the image of the nation’s Founding Father and the symbol of the Union’s savior. They carried it toward the altar of the National Cathedral, past diplomats and dignitaries ranked in rows, past military commanders of the highest rank and leaders of the commanding heights of power.
They carried it to the front—to lie in repose—where it rested, while speakers eulogized this warrior of peace; while eulogists memorialized America’s former commander in chief; while each spoke about the decency of their fallen friend, who was felled by the infirmities of age; while each said the man belonged to the ages; while each of his allies, from home and abroad, gathered to see him home and laid to rest; while the survivors of so many shattered states and bludgeoned races filed past to pay their respects.
Historians compared him to his successor.
They still speak of the contrast between the two.
One was terse in public yet tender in private, while the other captivated the public and tried to conceal his private behavior. One was inarticulate in public and ambiguous in general, though he was a general, while the other was clear—and courageous—in his speeches to the public about the price to be paid, the burden to be borne, and the hardship to be met.
One had a vice president whom the media reviled ever since he had entered the House and become the President of the Senate, while the other had a running mate known as the Master of the Senate.
In the end, history will note—and we will long remember—the greatness of one.
May God bless Dwight David Eisenhower and may God bless the United States of America.
Photo credit: Bettman Archive via Getty Images