When World War II began, few people outside the army had ever heard of a 50-year-old career officer named Dwight D. Eisenhower. But soon everyone knew “Ike,” who became one of the greatest generals of the century and much-loved two-term President.
Born in Texas, Eisenhower graduated from West Point in 1915. He was a starting halfback on the West Point football team until he hurt his knee.
He rose rapidly through the ranks, and in 1942 was put in command of U.S. troops in Europe. Then he directed the successful Allied invasions of North Africa and Italy. And in 1944, he planned the largest invasion in history.
On June 6, more than 150,000 Allied troops under his command landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. Eisenhower’s ability to win the cooperation of soldiers of many nationalities was a key factor in the Allied victory over Germany.
World War II made Eisenhower a national hero. Although he resisted invitations to become a political leader at first, he finally agreed to run for President. “I like Ike,” campaign buttons said. The nation agreed, electing him in 1952 and again in 1956.
As President, he helped bring an end to the Korean War, and he took a strong position against Communism….although some people criticized him for remaining aloof from controversial issues.
Eisenhower’s down-to-earth manner and kindness won him the nation’s affection.