The Eisenhower Tunnel

Today in History, March 15, 1968:

Construction begins on the Eisenhower Tunnel west of Denver, Colorado. The highest vehicle tunnel in the world, the tunnel cuts 1.6+ miles at over 11,000 feet, cutting through the Continental Divide and connecting Interstate 70. It takes much longer, and is much more dangerous to cross the Divide by driving over the mountain.

The tunnel was named after President Dwight Eisenhower, who was President in the 50’s when the Interstate road system was begun.

As a young Army Major in 1919 Eisenhower had been involved with a transcontinental convoy that traveled from Washington, DC to San Francisco. The convoy averaged 5 mph and faced much difficulty in navigating the country’s poor road system. This experience is why creating a modern, safe road system was one of President Eisenhower’s primary goals.

NUTS!! Monty Shows His….Ego

Today in History, January 7, 1945:

The Battle of the Bulge.

After the American 101st Airborne held out against overwhelming German forces for days, refusing to surrender (Gen. Anthony McAuliffe replied Nuts! to a surrender command, confusing the hell out of the Germans); after American Gen. George S. Patton turned his entire 3rd Army 90 degrees and ran full tilt through winter conditions to reach his comrades; after American air power helped save the day when the weather cleared,

British Gen. Bernard Law Montgomery held a press conference during which he took credit for the hard won victory.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill had to address Parliament to assert the truth that The Battle of the Bulge was solely an American victory after the political fall-out of Montgomery’s typically arrogant statements.

D-Day, the 6th of June

Today in History, June 6, 1944:

The skies overhead filled with aircraft…thousands of bombers, transports, fighters. The British populace watched the boys board transport ships bound for France…and wept. Their towns, so long filled with those damned Americans were now quiet and empty. They wouldn’t be coming back. Many would fill cemeteries across Europe; others would be headed home for the US after fighting their way to Germany.

In America, as the news was broadcast that the invasion had begun at long last, businesses, theaters, and other workplaces emptied and closed…and the churches filled to capacity.

Americans prayed for their sons, husbands and fathers. I’m sure they prayed not to see the Western Union courier on their street in the coming days.

The Allies had been planning, working for and arguing over this day since America had entered the war. Americans had wanted to make the assault on Europe as early as 1942. Stalin in Russia had been pushing for another front to be opened to relieve pressure on his country which had suffered incredible losses.

The British General Staff and Churchill had won the argument, which saw to fighting in Africa, Sicily and Italy first.

By 1944, as America provided more and more supplies…and troops…to the war, the invasion of France was planned.

The largest, most complex invasion in history began on June 6, 1944 with Americans, British, Canadians and troops from the occupied nations of Europe.

The world was saved by boys who should have lived long, happy lives.

We owe a debt we cannot possibly repay.

On that day, my father would be recognizing his 17th birthday. I don’t know when he shipped out, but that is the year he began his service in the Pacific.

The Eisenhower Tunnel

Today in History, March 15: 1968 – Construction begins on the Eisenhower Tunnel west of Denver, Colorado. The highest vehicle tunnel in the world, the tunnel cuts 1.6+ miles at over 11,000 feet, cutting through the Continental Divide and connecting Interstate 70. It takes much longer, and is much more dangerous to cross the Divide by driving over the mountain.

The tunnel was named after President Dwight Eisenhower, who was President in the 50’s when the Interstate road system was begun. As a young Army Major in 1919 Eisenhower had been involved with a transcontinental convoy that traveled from Washington, DC to San Francisco. The convoy averaged 5 mph and faced much difficulty in navigating the country’s poor road system. This experience is why creating a modern, safe road system was one of President Eisenhower’s primary goals.

Little Rock


Today in History, September 25: 1957 – 

The Little Rock Nine and historic connections. In 1954 the Supreme Court decided in Brown vs Board of Education that desegregation of public schools was the law of the land. In 1957 one of the first tests of the law began when 9 African-American students were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. 

 Local police escorted them at first, but their task was soon overwhelming as over 1,000 angry whites protested the students. The Arkansas Governor supported the protestors. But the odds were stacked against him. Not only was righteousness inevitable, but he and the protestors were soon up against President Dwight Eisenhower, who activated 1,200 men of the US Army 101st Airborne Division to provide security, escort the students and keep the peace in Little Rock. Eisenhower also FEDERALIZED the 10,000 soldiers of the Arkansas National Guard, taking them out of the control of the Arkansas governor and putting them to work keeping the peace at the school for the remainder of the school year. 

The Historic connections? What chance did racism have when confronted by the General whose command had defeated Hitler and the Nazis during WWII and the soldiers of the Airborne unit that dropped into Normandy on D-Day, then fought their way across Europe? (See the photo of Eisenhower addressing the 101st before they flew into history). With only 13 years between the two events, could some of the men who fought tyranny at D-Day been there at Little Rock protecting those brave children? The Civil Rights movement was well on it’s way. I love History.

Linking the Coasts – 20 Century Style

 

Today in History, June 29: 1956 – President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act, aka the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law. Our interstate highway system was initially justified as an assurance that the military would be able to move quickly across the country in the event our nation was invaded by a foreign power; the initial layout ensured air force bases were linked. Eisenhower had been involved, as a young US Army Lieutenant, in the Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919, which was designed to draw attention to the need for better roadways, again for military purposes. The trip in 1919 took approximately two months during which broken bridges had to be rebuilt, trucks pulled out of the mud by the soldiers on the “Lincoln Highway”. Later, when he commanded the US forces in Europe during WWII, Eisenhower was impressed by the German Autobahn. So when he was elected, getting our interstate highway system was his pet project.

A Hero Honoring Heroes

 

Today in History, May 30: 1958 – At the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, President Dwight Eisenhower awards the Medal of Honor to 3 unknown servicemen selected to lie beside the Unknown from WWI. The three, one from the Pacific Theater of WWII, one from the European Theater of WWII, and one from Korea, would eventually be joined by one from Vietnam.

And who better to bestow the Honor to these Heroes than General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower, who had led the war effort in Europe during World War II?  “Ike” had not wanted the Presidency…he was literally drafted into it…initially very much against his will.  If we could only have such an “adult” to lead us in modern times.