Regarding the Eisenhower Memorial

 

National memorials like President Eisenhower's are commissioned by Congress and designed with public participation. Through competitions that are open to everyone, designs are submitted and judged anonymously on their merits. This process -- design by public competition -- has brought many national memorials to completion on time and on budget, with the broad consensus a public symbol requires.

President Eisenhower's memorial was designed another way. An appointed board directly commissioned a famous architect with close personal and professional ties to the board's chairman. The resulting design is the most contentious and expensive presidential memorial ever.

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission failed to present a memorial within a reasonable budget. It failed to present a memorial that, like all others, will stand the test of time. It failed to present a memorial around which veterans, lawmakers, and the public could unite.

We believe this unfortunate outcome has everything to do with abandoning the usual process of public participation in our national memorials. This is why we advocated for a redesign of President Eisenhower's memorial through the usual open public competition. We believe this is also what President Eisenhower would have wanted, given his stewardship of the democratic process. We hope the design of the next national memorial returns to the proper procedure.

Unfortunately, construction began in November 2017 without benefit of a redesign. President Eisenhower's memorial is set for completion with taxpayer money but without public participation.

Nonetheless it is worth noting that public interest in our point of view helped delay construction of the current memorial design for at least five years. We offer heartfelt thanks to the many individual citizens, veterans, not-for-profit organizations, elected and appointed officials who advocated for an honest process that would fairly honor Dwight Eisenhower’s legacy. This website documents their efforts and the public debate they helped to shape.


Controversy Timeline
November 2017
Groundbreaking ceremony and start of construction.
June 2017
President's proposed budget for 2018 requests additional funding for memorial construction.
Commission of Fine Arts delays final approval of memorial design and requires more work on some elements.
May 2017
Congress approves partial construction funding for the Eisenhower Memorial and waives provision of the Commemorative Works Act that requires full funding be in place before construction begins. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission announces plans to start construction in September 2017.
March 2017
Senator Thad Cochran appointed to Eisenhower Memorial Commission
February 2017
National Capital Planning Commission gives preliminary approval to revised memorial design.
September 2016
Eisenhower family approves revised memorial design, with photographs of Omaha Beach and relocated statue of a young Eisenhower
February 2016
Eisenhower Memorial Commission requests $43 million for construction, $1.8 million for salaries and expenses, for Fiscal Year 2017; $41 million for construction for Fiscal Year 2018.
December 2015
Congress rejects Eisenhower Memorial Commission request for construction funding for the current design for the third year in a row.
November 2015
Veterans group calls for Eisenhower Memorial to be redesigned.
September 2015
Celebrities and politicians join Eisenhower Memorial Commission to promote the current design.
July 2015
National Capital Planning Commission votes final approval for the current design.
June 2015
Commission of Fine Arts votes final approval for current design.

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies removes all funding for the Eisenhower Memorial, and calls in the accompanying report for a public design competition and replacement of Eisenhower Memorial Commission staff.

The House of Representatives budget bill for Fiscal Year 2016 provides no funding for either commission operations or memorial construction. The Senate budget bill for Fiscal Year 2016 provides no funds for memorial construction and $1 million for commission operations. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission requested $68 million for construction and $2 million for operations.
February 2015
Eisenhower Memorial Commission requests $68.2 million for construction, $2 million for commission expenses, for Fiscal Year 2016.
December 2014
Eisenhower Memorial Commissioner Bruce Cole calls for a new memorial design.
November 2014
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies removes construction funding for the Eisenhower Memorial, and allocates $1 million for commission expenses, for Fiscal Year 2015.
October 2014

Eisenhower Memorial Commissioner Senator Jack Reed resigns.

Proposed Design wins preliminary approval from the National Capital Planning Commission.

Eisenhower Memorial Commissioner Senator Jerry Moran resigns.


July 2014
House Committee on Natural Resources reports on its oversight investigation into the activities of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) introduces H.R. 5203, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission Reform Act.
April 2014
National Capital Planning Commission rejects proposed design for the Eisenhower Memorial.
January 2014

Congress withholds construction funding for the Eisenhower Memorial for Fiscal Year 2015, allocates $1 million for commission expenses.

See “Longstanding Controversy” for developments prior to 2014.

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