In March 1969, former president Dwight Eisenhower was in a private suite at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. He had spent much of the last year there, having suffered his fourth heart attack in August 1968. The 78-year old, still known affectionately as Ike, was mentally sharp as ever, though his body was frail. Those closest to him knew his time was short.
Eisenhower shepherded America through the 1950s, and his presidential legacy has grown in popularity in recent years. In the 60s, though, Eisenhower was criticized for not doing enough to support civil rights during his time in office. This did not endear him to the younger generation. For those old enough to remember Ike as president, he was a relic of another time, a symbol of the Establishment.
Older Americans remembered Ike’s presidency more fondly. He brought an end to the Korean War. He also rejected aggressive calls by some around him to get more involved in Southeast Asia after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
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