Dwight David Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower was born in 1890 in Denison, Texas, and named David Dwight Eisenhower, although he was known as Dwight David. In 1891 the family moved to Abilene, Kansas, where three more sons were born. It was a typical small town, located on the prairie in the middle of the nation. In high school he was an athletic star, excelling as an outfielder in baseball and a tackle in football. Sports were his obsession, to the exclusion of any other diversion. He was only an average student except in his favorite subject, which was history. In 1909 Eisenhower went to work at the creamery where his father worked. In 1910 Eisenhower learned that he could get a free college education if he could get an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He didn\'t want to be a soldier, but studied hard for the competitive West Point entrance exam and won the appointment in 1911. At West Point Eisenhower was an average student. He was active in sports but had to quit the football team when he injured his knee. He almost resigned, but his roommate convinced him to finish his education. He graduated in 1915, ranked 61st in a class of 164 men.
Eisenhower\'s first assignment as a new army officer was at Fort Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas. Shortly after he arrived he met 18-year-old Mamie Geneva Doud. They dated against the wishes of her father, who did not want his daughter to marry a soldier. On July 1, 1916, they were married.
When the United States entered World War I, Eisenhower was promoted to captain and assigned to training duty. He applied for an overseas assignment that would get him into combat, but his superiors valued his work and put him in command of Camp Colt at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. One of the army\'s first tank corps was being formed there, and Eisenhower trained the fighting unit. Finally he got orders to take the tanks to France, but the war ended before they could leave. Eisenhower attended the army\'s Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Eisenhower graduated in 1926 as the top student of the class.
When a presidential election approached in 1952, Republican Party leaders who supported NATO came to Eisenhower to ask him to run. The party had lost five presidential elections in a row and wanted someone to run that supported NATO but was not as liberal as Truman. He ran and chose Richard Nixon as his vice president candidate. When Eisenhower became a candidate, President Truman decided not to run for reelection. Because there was not much competition he won easily. After the inauguration, it soon became clear that Eisenhower\'s policy was not to go on the offensive in the Korean War, but to end it. He warned the Communist Chinese that unless they signed an armistice, he would "not be constrained" in the weapons he would use, a reference to the possibility of using nuclear weapons. In July 1953 the Chinese signed the armistice. South Korea was preserved, and the two Koreas went back to their prewar boundary.
The next year Eisenhower\'s secretary of state and Vice President Nixon urged him to intervene in Vietnam. The French colonial forces in Vietnam were trapped at Dien Bien by the Communist Vietminh Army. Eisenhower refused because the jungles of Indochina would swallow up division after division of U.S. troops. The French surrendered at Dien Bien and Vietnam was divided into two states, the Communist North and the anti-Communist South. Eisenhower then began a policy of containment. In 1954 he extended U.S. protection to South Vietnam under the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and also provided economic aid. Eisenhower\'s refusal to intervene in Hungary was based on his most profound insight, that nuclear war was unthinkable. He believed that Communism was a bad system that would someday collapse on its own. Because Eisenhower wanted peace, on a number of occasions he turned down recommendations by members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he launch a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviets while the United States still had more atomic bombs. He called his defense policy the New Look. It relied on nuclear weapons to deter the Soviets, but he refused