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Dwight Eisenhower Wartime Address Highlights: 7 Quotes From Speech

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 10:03 AM

“You are about to embark on a great crusade,” Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower told the troops in the hours before the wartime invasion of Normandy. While those words are remembered well, that was not his only stirring speech. As president, Eisenhower dealt with military matters in Korea and beyond.

Here are highlights from his presidential speeches:

1. A free country always has a choice other than war, candidate Eisenhower said in October 1952: “The biggest fact about the Korean War is this: It was never inevitable ... No demonic destiny decreed that America had to be bled this way in order to keep South Korea free and to keep freedom itself self-respecting. We are not mute prisoners of history. That is a doctrine for totalitarians, it is no creed for free men.” – Oct. 25, 1952, “I Shall Go To Korea” speech.

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2. In the same speech, candidate Eisenhower laid out what he said were the failures of the Truman Administration to signal to the Communists that the U.S. would protect Korea. “The armies of communism, thus informed, began their big build-up. Six months later they were ready to strike across the Thirty-eighth Parallel. They struck on June 25, 1950. On that day, the record of political and diplomatic failure of this Administration was completed and sealed. The responsibility for this record cannot be dodged or evaded.”
– Oct. 25, 1952, “I Shall Go To Korea” speech.

3. Eisenhower’s first public address as president, three months after taking office, touched on the hidden costs of war preparation:
“The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

“We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

“This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.”
– Speech to newspaper editors, April 16, 1953.

4. Though Eisenhower didn’t coin the phrase, he articulated the “domino theory” of containing Communism when Robert Richards of Copley Press asked him about the importance of Indochina: “...You have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the ‘falling domino’ principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. ... Asia, after all, has already lost some 450 million of its peoples to the Communist dictatorship, and we simply can't afford greater losses.” – Press conference, April 7, 1954.

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5. Later during the same press conference, Eisenhower was asked about U.S. involvement in other countries’ politics. His answe
r: “I will say this: for many years, in talking to different countries, different governments, I have tried to insist on this principle: no outside country can come in and be really helpful unless it is doing something that the local people want.” – Press conference, April 7, 1954.

6. It was in 1960, as he prepared to leave office, that Eisenhower noted the increasing sophistication of weapons created the need for specialized military manufacturing, instead of quickly adapting from civilian industry, as in World War II. This gave rise, he said, to a standing “military-industrial complex,” which he warned would have undue influence in politics and life: “We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet ... we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” – Farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961.

7. In the same address, Eisenhower cautioned America to be ready to treat with smaller nations that would grow in global influence:
“Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours (must be) ... a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength.” - Farewell address, Jan. 17, 1961.

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"You are about to embark on a great crusade," Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower told the troops in the hours before the wartime invasion of Normandy. While those words are remembered well, that was not his only stirring speech.
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