David Eisenhower Tells Story of President, Grandfather in Memoir

Article excerpt

As a teenager growing up in Gettysburg in the early 1960s, he was like many of his peers. He attended school, played sports, raced his car and occasionally got in trouble. He spent a lot of time with his family, particularly with his grandfather.

Just another story, except the kid was David Eisenhower, and his grandfather just happened to have been a war hero and a president. The years after the presidency are recounted in "Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower."

"My real motive for putting this out is it's a story I wanted to share," Eisenhower says. "I would have written this about a neighbor or a grandparent, just without a famous name. It's really about the two of us in Gettysburg, encountering his personality, this older man."

But when your grandfather is one of the most important figures of the 20th century, there is an inherent gravitas to your story. David Eisenhower, who previously penned "Eisenhower at War: 1943-1945," starts "Going Home to Glory" on Jan. 20, 1961, the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th president of the United States. After the ceremony, Dwight Eisenhower, his wife, Mamie, and a few of their personal servants left Washington, D.C., driving through Emmitsburg, Frederick and other small towns in Maryland where well- wishers lined the road. They were accompanied by a single car with two agents from the Secret Service; there were no motorcycle escorts, no press retinue. It was just a man going home to spend time with his family.

For David Eisenhower, who had been in close proximity to his grandfather since the age of 7, there was always a sense he was dealing with different personalities. Sometimes he was granddad, sometimes he was Eisenhower, and that dichotomy is reflected in the book.

"I knew he was important, I knew he was the center of our family," he says. "And then there was this other person I'm watching on television in the company of classmates. I think that when I encountered this other person, there was the thrill of knowing that I knew him. That made me different from some of the people around me. To be honest, seeing an individual on television I knew was strange for me. …