From "Going Home to Glory" by David Eisenhower with Julie Nixon Eisenhower. Copyright © 2010 by Juldee Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
In the late afternoon of Inauguration Day, January 20, 1961, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower drove north to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in the 1955 Chrysler Imperial that Mamie had purchased for Ike on his sixty-fifth birthday. . . .
. . . My grandparents drove directly to our home, a former schoolhouse that stood on the corner of their farm. My three younger sisters, Anne, eleven, Susan, nine, Mary Jean, five, and I, now a grown-up twelve years old, had watched the inauguration at home in Gettysburg. I remembered thinking that it should have been the Nixons moving into the White House - and then thinking that being twelve and fourteen years old, the ages of Julie and Tricia Nixon, would be a terrible time to have Secret Service agents. I would miss the men on my detail, but not their constant guarding of Gran One, Gran Two, Gran Three, and Gran Four, the official Secret Service names for my sisters and me.
Everyone now seemed animated and happy, in sharp contrast to the air of numbing tension in the White House several weeks earlier. Relaxed, Granddad listened intently to every word spoken and seemed to say less than usual. He basked in the attention, joking lightly. Characteristically, he wandered frequently into the kitchen to supervise dinner preparations by Sergeant Moaney and his wife, Delores, who had arrived at the farm earlier in the day. Moaney had joined Granddad's staff as his orderly in the early months of the war in Europe and Delores had become my grandparents' cook after the war.
My father, John, broke the spell of gaiety toward the end of the evening, standing up from the dinner table to speak. He reviewed briefly Granddad's accomplishments and then spoke of the years before the fame. As a small, tight-knit family of three, the Eisenhowers had seen much of the world. They had lived in Paris and in Washington both before and during the Depression. They then went on to the Philippines and four years of service under General Douglas MacArthur. The war had dispersed the family, John going to West Point, Mamie returning to Washington, and Dwight Eisenhower going on, in Douglas MacArthur's words, to "write his name in history." Dad recalled that the decision to run for president had been difficult, but in the end, Dwight Eisenhower had returned from his NATO command to lead the country through eight years of peace and prosperity. Dad spoke of the experience of a lifetime he had had serving his father in the West Wing.
"Leaving the White House will not be easy at first," Dad said. "But we are reunited as a family, and this" - Dad gestured to all of us seated, and outside toward the farm - "is what we have wanted. I suppose that tonight, we welcome back a member of this clan who has done us proud." Dad raised his glass in a toast.
Too moved to reply, Granddad simply held his glass high and joined in the "hear, hear."
For more info:
"Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969" by David Eisenhower with Julie Nixon Eisenhower (Simon & Schuster)
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