Eisenhower Farm

GETTYSBURG, PA- March 30, 2016

Intro

After our morning visit to the Flight 93 National Monument we headed east. We decided to go to Gettysburg.

We’d been to the famous battlefield, so we wanted to do something different.

The Drive

Wednesday was a long day. After the sobering visit to the Flight 93 Memorial in the morning, we drove two hours to Gettysburg.

Driving east the gently, rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania gave way to a flat scenic countryside. It was perfect driving weather- a cool, crisp early spring day with a cloudless blue sky.

The drive was breathtaking. We saw the small buds beginning to burst open from the warmer weather on the trees. The landscape filled up with winding creeks and flat rivers. Sprinkled on the hilltops were small towns, cows, farms, fields, and forests.

Tour

We arrived in Gettysburg a little after 3pm. We got the last shuttle of the day from the Gettysburg Military Park Museum and Visitor Center to Eisenhower’s Gettysburg Farm.

We took the self-guided tour of the home and grounds.

Ike the Man

Dwight David Eisenhower (Ike) is one of the most fascinating figures in American history. He is one of five Presidents who was also a General.

Born into hardscrabble poverty in rural Kansas, the son of stern pacifists, Dwight David Eisenhower graduated from high school more likely to teach history than to make it (D’Este, 2003).

There was nothing in his family background, but a surplus of love. This formed the backbone of his Midwestern values and how he saw the world.

Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general during World War II. He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe.

Despite all his success he saw himself as a farmer.

Ike and Gettysburg

 

Ike visited Gettysburg in 1915, when he visited on a battlefield tour with his West Point class. In 1918, he served at Camp Colt- the same field as Pickett’s Charge and the 1913 Great Reunion of Civil War veterans.

In 1950, Ike bought the farm, but the Eisenhowers didn’t take up permanent residence until 1961.

The Gettysburg Farm

The 189 acre farm sits next to the Gettysburg National Military Park, near Pitzer Woods and Warsfield Ridge.

Ike bought the farm in 1950 for $40,000.00, or $400,900 in today’s money. It came with 600 chickens and 25 cows.

The home was a seven-room fixer upper. In 1955, they gutted the house and rebuilt it. The Eisenhowers chooses it because it’s halfway between New York City and Washington DC.

In 1961, President Eisenhower, at age 70, retired to his Gettysburg farm. He and his wife lived there until they died. The Farm served as a weekend retreat when Eisenhower was in office.

It is a peaceful setting with a great view of the South Mountain of Camp David and the battlefield. Ike was the first President to travel by helicopter. Camp David was a ten minute helicopter to the Farm.

For Ike, the Farm served as a refuge from the bustle of Washington DC. After he retired it was a meeting place for world leaders- a neutral spot that helped to cool the hot tensions of the Cold War.

Ike’s Gettysburg Farm is still a working farm.

As you arrive you walk down farm lanes, past pastures and crops to the big green barn with cattle inside.

The House

The Eisenhower home was a 100 year old weathered white, two-story stone farmhouse. Dark green trim and shutters frame the windows. You start the tour passing through a large, flat black door.

The sun porch on the rear of the 4 bedroom home overlooks the President’s putting green. Ike was an enthusiastic golfer, he loved to work on his short game.

Throughout the house are paintings by Ike. He did over 300 paintings in his lifetime. They are haunting watercolors of smiling young men in hats and blue vases and pink roses.

The living room has a beige carpet that matched the curtains. It’s full of gifts from heads of state and friends. The centerpiece is a silk Tabriz red and black rug from the Shah of Iran. Next to it is a mother-of-pearl, black lacquer from the wife of the President of South Korea.

The marble fireplace mantle was in the East Room of the White House when Lincoln was President. Ike loved Lincoln. He could recite whole passages of books written by the tall, bearded President.

The Eisenhowers seldom used the room except for entertaining. Ike thought it was too stuffy.

In the kitchen is a sturdy enameled ivory oven and stovetop. We spotted the original medium brown, random-width hardwood floors, they creak as you walked on them. It reminded you of the famous feet that passed this way.

The sun porch is where the family really lived. It has one of the first televisions in America. This was the most comfortable room in the house. The table and chairs are arranged like they just got up to run an errand and they’ll be right back.

You move upstairs and realize the white wallpaper had brown symbols of all fifty states on it.

The upstairs of the house is much more personal and full of family stories. You see books, bedrooms and the private collections of a loving family that traveled the world.

The view from upstairs is the field of Pickett’s Charge- a bloody Confederate infantry assault and the culmination of the Battle of Gettysburg. Like Flight 93, you are humbled by history because it’s hallowed ground.

Back downstairs, Ike’s den is a man cave with a green poker table, floor-to-ceiling bookcase, a gun display case and a fire place. The President was an avid reader and loved to play cards.

Ike’s office reflects the humble, down-to-earth man he was. It’s a simple desk with a rickety, wooden oak kitchen chair.

The Public Man

In 1952, Eisenhower ran for President. Like the man, he kept things simple. “I LIKE IKE!” read his campaign buttons.

His explosive charisma, his modest, self-deprecating humor allowed some folks to be fooled by his “aw-shucks attitude” but he was a shrewd judge of character.

Americans could easily relate to his plain talk, his firm handshake and reassuring smile. They respected his heroic military service.

A lieutenant colonel at 50 with no military future ahead of him in the stifling between-the-wars promotion system, Eisenhower became, in little more than three years and three months, a five-star general.

He commanded the Allied Forces in Europe from the landing at Normandy to the end of the war. Later he was the head of NATO and President of Columbia University.

The farm was the only home the Eisenhowers ever owned. Unlike other Presidents, Ike came from a poor background and never had much money.

The museum highlights the life of Ike and 1950’s era America, when he was President.

Assessment

I loved the house. I got a better understanding of one of my heroes. Ike went off to war unknown and returned an idol. He was the architect of the Allied victory in Europe.

As President his modest way of talking and simple manner spoke to the nation. During his time in office America had its most prosperous decade.

Ike was the quintessential American- smart, middle-class, honest and hard working. His Gettysburg home was the last stop for an American hero.

Man at War- Mesopotamia

Intro

Iraq has a special history. It has a long, and ancient history.

Iraq is home to the lush, life-giving valley between two rivers, human civilization first started as far back as 10,000 BC. Here evidence of hunter-gathers were beginning to experiment with growing food.

It was the dawn of agriculture. The story began several thousand years ago.

Geography and History

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow through this country, as they did 10,000 years ago. The rivers bring a sense of continuity to a war-torn land. Today the region struggles with famine, upheaval and change.

“Mesopotamia” is the name for ancient Iraq. It means “land between the rivers.” It describes the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The two rivers begin in the mountains of eastern Turkey and flow north past Syria before reaching lower Iraq. The Tigris flows 1,180 miles and the Euphrates drifts 1,740 miles.

The Fertile Crescent

This land between the rivers is the “the Fertile Crescent.” It supported agriculture for thousands of years.

Beyond the rivers the topography and climate change dramatically. In the west and south the landscape is a vast, dry desert. In the north is a cold, mountainous region.

Only 15% of Iraq in north is foothills and mountains. It rises 1,500 feet above sea level. Most of the country is less than 1,000 feet below sea level. The lowest point, at sea level, is where the rivers flow into the Persian Gulf.

First Civilization

The world’s first known civilization evolved in Iraq 3500 BC. The people of this region invented the wheel and the sailboat.

The people of Mesopotamia were in small city-states in the southeast region called “Sumar.” The name means “civilized kings.” They made weapons of stone and wood.

Weapons

Flint is a kind of stone. It’s common to many areas of the world. It’s found in the chalk. If a block of flint is struck at certain points they split. Thin flakes of the rock will break off.

Early man slowly discovered how to split and shape pieces of stone into knives, spear and arrow heads. Large pieces were put on wooden shafts to serve as axes.

Man at War- Stone and Wood

Intro

Early man lived in caves far down on the road to extinction when he discovered man-made tools. He was always hungry and often on the edge of starvation.

He didn’t understand why he was cold and tired all that time. He constantly forged for food. His first tools were his hands, teeth and limited intellect. He eked out an existence, barely surviving.

Gradually he learned how to use other tools other than his teeth and claws. He experimented with stones, sticks and fire.

Keeping what worked and throwing out what didn’t. It was a tedious business.

Sluggishly early man survived and began to thrive. He was a stubborn race who refused to die and give up.

One day early man moved from blunt clubs to sticks with sharpened stones. It was this way throughout his long, brutal history, constantly learning and improving.

Flint

Flint is a kind of stone. It’s common to many areas of the world. It’s found in chalk. If a block of flint is struck at certain points it splits. Thin flakes of the rock will break off.

Early man slowly discovered how to split and shape pieces of stone into knives, spear and arrow heads. Large pieces were put on wooden shafts and served as axes.

Improved Stone Weapons

Flint tools and weapons in the Stone Age were simple and rough. Workers learned how to polish and shape the flint pieces.

Arrow heads were carefully made with a short neck and attached to wooden or reed shafts. The shafts were carefully split, the arrow head inserted and bound into place.

Flint or similar stones were used over the centuries by warriors all over the world. The Aztecs of Central America used pieces of obsidian, a black rock from volcanoes. ‘

They would fix pieces along the edge of a wooden sword to give it a vicious cutting edge. On the islands of the Pacific warriors used pieces of stone to make axes. The Maoris of New Zealand used wide, flat axes made of stone or bone.

The aborigines of Australia also fashioned weapons of stone. They came with new materials, like glass, English settlers brought with them.

Coming of Metal Weapons

When smiths began to make metal weapons around 3500 BC, they were better, stronger, sharper and more durable than those of flint. Fewer and fewer flint weapons were made, although flint was still used for arrowhead.

A flint-tipped arrow was worth much less than a bronze one. It mattered less if it was lost in battle or on a hunt.

Recent tests have shown that flint arrows are almost as good as the ones made from steel and penetrate targets almost as well. Peoples like the Indians of North America continued to make the flint arrowheads right up to this century.

Present Day

All over the world, there are caves decorated with drawings of primitive people hunting and fighting. Some modern day native people in Australia and New Guinea use stone and wooden weapons, like our ancestors 4,000 years ago.

Although contact with the modern world has brought steel and present day metal working techniques allowing them to make metal weapons.

 

Man at War- Early Man

Intro

For as long as man has walked the earth there has been war. Early man fought to survive.

He fought animals who attacked him, he killed those animals for food. He fought against other men who tried to drive him from his hunting grounds.

Combat changed as the technology improved. These changes brought socioeconomic and political changes.

Looking into the past tells us how weapons and warriors are made. It provides valuable lessons to aspiring leaders throughout the ages.

The First Weapons

At first early man used any stick or stone to survive. Slowly he learned to make better weapons. He sharpened the end of a stick to use it for stabbing.

He found that different kinds of stones could be shaped into sharp pieces that would cut. Later he made bows, this allowed him to launch his pointed sticks as arrows.

Arms and Armor

Over time wandering hunters settled into villages. These villages grew into towns. Over the centuries there were enough men to form armies in times of trouble.

Over the centuries the soldier’s weapons, improved and grew more complex. Some men become weapon makers and others made armor to protect the soldiers. The story of the first arms race is about the competition between these two groups of craftsmen.

A weapon maker might design a new sword, but the armorer would make a new suit of armor the sword couldn’t penetrate. Then the weapon maker would make a new sword that would pierce the armor, and the cycle would continue.

Workers in Metal

The making of armor reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. Swords, daggers, and other edged weapons were made by “cutlers.” Armorers and mail-makers supplied the armor worn by knights.

Most of the shaping was done by hand with the metal being hammered on metal blocks. Some armorers set their workshops by rivers, they’d use the running water to turn wheels and drive mechanical hammers.

Rich men had their armor made to measure by experts. Ordinary armor was designed to fit most grunt foot soldiers.

Gunmakers

Gunpowder was discovered in China nearly over a 1,000 years ago. It reached Europe in the Middle Ages. Firearms became common in the 16th century.

At first they were simple, made by armor and blacksmiths themselves. Soon they became complicated and special skills and workers were needed to make only firearms.

Most guns included the work of several craftsmen who made different parts: the barrel, the wooden stock and firing mechanism. Until about 1850 almost all the gunmaker’s work was done by hand. After 1850 more and more machines were used to mass produce firearms for soldiers.

Modern Warfare

The contest between weapons and armor is still going on today. For many years tanks and armored fighting vehicles seemed to rule the battlefield, but today a single infantryman can destroy a tank with a missile.