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Eisenhower memorial backers say enough is enough

U.S. Sen. Bob Dole is leading the campaign to get funding for the national memorial
The fight to build a President Eisenhower memorial 04:02

In the 1950s, everybody liked Ike. But 60 years later, a national memorial for President Dwight D. Eisenhower is in limbo, with funding withheld by Congress.

Congress authorized the memorial to be built on four acres in Washington, D.C., but it is being held up because of a fight over the design, CBS News' Julianna Goldman reports. Now backers are saying enough is enough, and they are pulling out some high-powered names.

On Saturdays, 92-year-old former Sen. Bob Dole braves the heat to greet fellow veterans at the World War II Memorial.

The former Republican presidential candidate raised $170 million to build the memorial. Now he wants to do the same to honor fellow Kansan, President Eisenhower.

"Ike was our hero ... I believe that there's still millions of Americans, sons and daughters and few of us left from World War II, who consider Eisenhower as one of America's greatest men. It's time that we memorialize his efforts," Dole said.

But the delay is 16 years in the making.

It centers on a controversial design by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Critics, including some members of Eisenhower's family, say it's modern and imposing and doesn't represent the man from Abilene, Kansas, who went on to become supreme Allied commander and then the 34th president.

This artist rendering provided by the Eisenhower Commission shows a model for the national memorial in Washington for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The proposal by renowned architect Frank Gehry features a series of 80-foot-tall columns and metal "tapestries." AP Photo/Eisenhower Commission

Bruce Cole is the lone member of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission opposing the Gehry plan.

"The Gehry memorial is a bunch of columns and a huge tapestry in a giant space, which tells you really nothing about Ike but everything about Frank Gehry, who is a 'starchitect,'" Cole said.

The current design costs $150 million, but this summer lawmakers voted to withhold funding amid the fight.

Today, Dole and the commission are going around Congress, announcing a high-profile list of people joining their ranks in a major push for private funding. It features former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, two former secretaries of state and four former Senate majority leaders. Actor Tom Hanks has also jumped on board.

Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the memorial commission, is raising private funds despite the family's objection.

"This memorial is larger than the family. This memorial is for this country, all of our veterans and internationally. This is an international and national memorial to Eisenhower," Roberts said.

This isn't the first memorial to be a flashpoint. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's family was split on the decision to install a sculpture of FDR in a wheelchair. And the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial construction was rife with controversy.

"Yes, there's going to be controversy, but I don't believe that this can get done, and I think there's no public appetite for raising money," Cole said.

But Dole says time is running out.

With only 850,000 World War II veterans still alive today, Dole wants them to be able to go from the World War II Memorial up the National Mall to salute their commander in chief.

"We aren't getting any younger. If we don't start construction soon, it'll just be a memory -- we won't be there," he said.

CBS News reached out to the Eisenhower family about the latest developments, and the family had no comment.

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