As I sit Sunday evening in a small apartment in Sedona, AZ, watching New England win Super Bowl 51, in overtime, I thought about last week’s column, about the presidents during my lifetime and President Eisenhower came to mind. What was his contribution to our great nation?
I was thinking about him because since last Tuesday, we have been traveling on the Interstate Highway System. We traveled from Glenwood City to Little Rock, AR and then on to Sedona, some 2,250 miles.
The Interstate Highway came as an idea of President Dwight David Eisenhower. He signed the Interstate Highway Act into law in 1956.
During Eisenhower’s eight years as President (January 20, 1953 to January 20, 1961) times were good. For you who don’t know anything about Eisenhower, he was one of the U.S. Army’s few five star generals, who lead the Allies to victory in Europe in World War II.
Times were great, jobs everywhere, the country was building homes, new businesses, factories. We were making pots, pans, stoves, refrigerators, televisions, cars, and babies. The Baby Boomer Generation was well underway.
But, Eisenhower’s idea of a federal highway system did not start in the 1950’s. It started in 1919.
On July 7, 1919, Eisenhower, as a young Army Captain joined 294 other members of the Army, departed from Washington, D.C. in the military’s first automobile caravan across the country. Due to poor roads and mishaps, the caravan averaged just five miles per hour.
It took 62 days to reach Union Square in San Francisco.
At the end of World War II, Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower surveyed the war damage to Germany and was impressed by the durability of their Autobahn.
While a single bomb could make a train route useless, the Autobahn’s wide modern Highway could often be used immediately after being bombed because it was difficult to destroy such a wide swath of concrete or asphalt.
And, today we have some 42,000 miles of Interstate to travel through the country.
Just a note on something that President Lincoln said: “A democracy can only survive if the people honor the election results.”
Thanks for reading! ~Carlton