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The Eisenhower Legacy Gala was held on Saturday, October 15, 2016 in the Eisenhower Presidential Library Courtyard. Being an election year, the theme for the event was, “Everybody Likes Ike,” taken from the 1952 video produced by Walt Disney and his brother Roy that was ranked by Time magazine as one of the ten-best campaign spots ever. Guests watched the commercial as they entered the Courtyard and were greeted by the Disney characters that decorated the walls — a baker, a farmer, a fireman, a housewife, and even a baby elephant beating a drum — all marching to the tune of, “You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike for president.”
The Eisenhower Foundation’s Executive Director, Meredith Sleichter, served as emcee and opened the evening with facts about Ike’s road to the presidency. Attendees learned that both the Democrat and Republican Parties recruited Ike to run as their nominee, and heard about the Eisenhower Bandwagon — a 25-ton branded semi-trailer carrying a jeep, barrage balloons, tanks of helium, searchlights, 500,000 I LIKE IKE buttons and two dozen Ike dresses — that traveled 35,000 miles through 26 states.
Foundation Treasurer, Stephen Hauge, welcomed guests on behalf of the Board of Directors and shared a special memory from his father, Gabriel Hauge’s, experience as a campaign speechwriter. The Courtyard filled with laughter, listening to Ike’s favorite stunt on the campaign trail — a three-foot length of white pine, which had been sawed almost through in two places. Ike would hold it up and say, “Now, in 1945 you could buy this for 15 cents.” Then he would break it in half over his knee and say, “Now, this is how much you can get for 15 cents today.” Then he would break it again and say, “And this is what 15 cents will buy if a Democratic administration is returned to the White House.”
One of the evening’s special guests, six year-old Macey Hensley, stole the hearts of all in the room. A regular on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Macey awed Gala guests with her knowledge and charm as she answered presidential trivia questions. Ike’s granddaughter, Mary Jean, presented Macey with a lifetime membership to the Eisenhower Foundation, noting how proud her grandfather would be of this clever Kansas girl who also has aspirations of the Presidency.
Carol Bales of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, Abilene native Nancy Jarecki, and Rebecca Hall of the Hall Family Foundation, all of whom are very special friends of the Eisenhower Foundation, offered their own reasons for “Liking Ike,” and again, two outstanding crew members from the USS DWIGHT D EISENHOWER were honored with the Eisenhower Leadership Awards.
The event culminated with a toast using the slogan from a favorite 1952 campaign bumper sticker, “All in favor, say Ike!”