Celebrating President’s Day 2019
Discover the life of one of Aurora's most famous visitors, President Eisenhower
February 18, 2019
Dwight D. Eisenhower
34th President of the United States
1890 – 1969
Before serving as President of the United States, Dwight (otherwise known as Ike), had a substantial military career that crafted his success as a leader. Discover his background, significant achievements, and even information about his extended stay in Aurora, Colorado.
Born in Texas, Dwight moved to Kansas with his family as a child. As one of seven children, Ike, was accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1915. Ike was then stationed San Antonio where he met his wife, Mamie, and later married in 1916. Post-WWI, Ike decided to further his education and attend the Command and General Staff College earning a position as a lieutenant colonel. After college, he served in the U.S. Military throughout WWII where he was appointed supreme commander during the war. After returning home in 1945, Ike served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army.
After serving as head of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces under President Harry Truman, Ike decided to run for president. Winning the Republican nomination in July 1952, Ike went on to defeat Adlai Stevenson and become the 34th President of the United States.
During his two-term presidency, Ike had a variety of successes.
-Ending the Korean War of 1953
-Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960
-Desegregated the Armed Forces
-Developed a funding structure that would create more than 41,000 miles of highway in the United States
HIS STAY IN AURORA
While visiting Mamie’s family in Colorado, Ike suffered a major heart attack in 1955. He was transported to Anschutz Medical Campus (previously known as the Fitzsimons Army Hospital) and taken to Building 500. For seven weeks, the Eisenhower’s stayed in suite 8002 as Ike recovered. Complete with a visitor’s parlor and West Deck, the suite perched above Colfax Ave essentially became the country’s headquarters. According to the records, Mamie would walk on the West Deck each day at 4:30 PM to wave to citizens standing below. Ike’s heart issues became a talking point in the medical community and even served as an educational tool for Americans, encouraging them to maintain good heart health.
After winning re-election in 1956, Ike went on to serve as a second term president during which he accomplished notable successes, including the Civil Rights Act. His final presidential term ended in 1961, and his heart disease continued to take a toll on his daily life. After suffering additional heart attacks between 1967 and 1969, he passed away on March 28, 1969. He was 78 years old.
Visitors can tour the historic building for free which has been restored to its 1955 feel. Visit the Colorado School of Medicine’s website for more information. Want to see inside the suite yourself? Take a look at our tour of Building 500.
*All historical information provided by History.com, Anschutz Medical Campus, and PresidentEisenhower.net.