The senator who made headlines for quoting a Disney movie earlier this month adopted on Wednesday the words of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower on Wednesday, declaring he would “accept nothing less than full victory” in the long slog to build a memorial to the 34th president. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., quoted Ike after he was unanimously elected chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission during a brief meeting that three of the seven appointed members of Congress skipped. The House was debating appropriations for military construction and veterans affairs programs as the commission convened on the Senate side of the Capitol.
“The design has gone through several years of approval and quite a bit of refinement. Although I am pleased with the progress we have made, our work is not yet complete,” Roberts said after the voice vote. “General Eisenhower told the troops before they stormed the beaches of Normandy, ‘Your task will not be easy,’ but he also said, ‘We will accept nothing less than full victory.'”
Referring to planning that’s been under way since 1999, Roberts said, “it has not been easy to get where we are with this memorial, but Ike never stopped because it wasn’t easy and neither will we.”
Complaints about architect Frank Gehry’s design from the Eisenhower family and others have complicated the process, but Roberts said he has been working with them. The senator did not stop for questions about reported visits to Capitol Hill in what appears to be a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort against the current design.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who was elected vice chairman of the panel during the meeting, said he had not recently heard from the Eisenhower family and was “not sure where they are,” but seemed to think the message was being miscommunicated.
Thompson encouraged all parties to “respect the process,” as the design moves forward. “Great work has gone into this to date, and I think in doing so, we will be able to make some progress on this.”
The fight surrounding Gehry’s plan led Sen. Jerry Moran , R-Kan., to quietly resign from the commission last year. He was a fan of the gargantuan tapestries depicting scenes from his state’s prairie that Gehry wants to frame the memorial park. Two were eliminated after criticism, and Moran decided his “ongoing support for the inclusion of Kansas has led him to conclude that this stance is blocking a memorial to President Eisenhower from completion,” a spokeswoman said at the time. Roberts expressed his support for the design on Wednesday. “One of the most poignant aspects of this design is that it captures the president and the general’s boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas,” Roberts said. “I believe that Ike would like that, too. As he said, ‘The proudest thing I can claim is that I’m from Abilene.”
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