WASHINGTON — Taiwan is pledging $1 million to help build a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington as the project organizers begin a fundraising campaign to complete the monument.
The gift being announced Tuesday marks a critical phase for the Eisenhower Memorial after 15 years of planning. Organizers must determine whether they can raise the money needed to build the long-delayed monument. They hope to raise at least $20 million privately and build support in Congress for additional construction funding.
This year's 70th anniversary of the end of World War II is a fitting time to recall Eisenhower's accomplishments as a military general and president, Taiwan's economic and cultural representative to the U.S., Lyushun Shen, wrote in a letter to Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, the memorial commission's chairman. Eisenhower "holds a very special place in the hearts of the people of Taiwan," Shen wrote, citing Eisenhower's support for Taiwan's security.
"President Eisenhower's legacy is to be credited all the way through for generations to come," Shen said.
Historians and organizers behind the Eisenhower Memorial effort said they found Eisenhower's reputation around the world rivaled that of any other U.S. president. They have been introducing the memorial plans to various nations and hope others will support the project as well.
"Eisenhower is arguably the most international of all presidents," said retired Brig. Gen. Carl Reddel, executive director of the memorial commission. Eisenhower's legacy "in many ways resonates today more abroad than it does in the United States because Eisenhower's impact was so fully international."
Other nations also made contributions to the creation of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts.
The Eisenhower project has been in the planning stages for 15 years since Congress created a federal memorial commission to lead the effort. Last week, the group won final approval for the memorial's design by architect Frank Gehry, despite criticism from Eisenhower family members in recent years.
Gehry designed a memorial park with statues of Eisenhower as general, as president and as a young man from Kansas. A large metal tapestry would serve as a backdrop, depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike's boyhood home.
Congress already has appropriated $60 million for design and planning, of which $17 million is still on hand. President Obama's 2016 budget proposal included $68 million more for construction. But Congress has not yet approved any funding. Lawmakers have cited complaints over the design.
Uncertainty surrounding the design in recent years has delayed private fundraising as well, Reddel said, but now that effort will begin in earnest. The commission said it hopes to raise $20 million to $25 million to supplement congressional funds.
Eisenhower Memorial: http://eisenhowermemorial.gov
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