Considering that the Eisenhower Memorial has faced resistance at every step of the way, last night's discussion of the which quotes to use for the proposed Memorial at the National Press Club was very smooth. All three of the historians that proposed quotations for the monument (Dr. Louis Galambos, Dr. Richard Striner, Dr. Daun van Ee) were present at the discussion as were several other people in official or unofficial capacity that had either studied Eisenhower or published some work regarding his time in office. Dr. Michael Birkner, Dr. Stephen Randolph and Dr. James Thurber, all politicians or historians, also spoke on the pool of selected quotations. The committee culled the quotations from six of his most famous speeches and want to split the quotes from his speeches as a general and his speeches as a President. Here are some of the takeaways we have from last night's event regarding everything from audience participation to the historians' view of the design process.
· Committee members were decidedly torn on the subject of his second inaugural speech which they agreed was contextually important but repeatedly referred to as "dull and pedestrian."
· They want the memorial to be educational and timeless. Panelists kept bringing up that they wanted the thirteen-year-old visitor from middle America to be touched by the words. Birkner said he wanted the quotes to be something that matters in 2013 and will matter in 2053, "assuming we have a strong and vibrant republic, then."
· Part of the reason that this has taken so much consideration is that "Eisenhower was not a great orator. He was a great communicator but he did not have much respect for what he called, 'slick talkers,'" according to van Ee. In fact one of his great quotes which was not discussed for obvious reasons is, "An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
· The committee did not give any consideration to the Eisenhower quote that's already on the World War II Memorial.
· The historians choosing the quotes aren't otherwise involved in constructing the monument. "I am not an architect," said Dr. Galambos. "There is a design process. My own sense of it is that it moves like a snail."
· The final amount of text and location will not necessarily reflect what is shown on the image above. The selection from the Farewell Address from 1961 might not even be included. "If [the chosen quotations] were already set in stone, we wouldn't be here," said Dr. Galambos. "We are listening to what people are saying."