President Eisenhower at Gettysburg
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gettysburg are two parts of our collective American history. Visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park can learn not only about the Battle of Gettysburg, but also about the life and retirement home of our country’s 34th president. At Eisenhower National Historic Site, visitors can explore the house and grounds of President and Mamie Eisenhower at Gettysburg. Step back in time and explore the life of 1950s-era America on a visit to Eisenhower National Historic Site.
Eisenhower’s Gettysburg Retreat
President Eisenhower’s association with the town and battlefield of Gettysburg began long before he and his wife Mamie settled down to a life of retirement at their farm located in one of the most historic towns in America. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Eisenhower served at Camp Colt in Gettysburg, training soldiers for the United States army’s tank corps. In World War II, under Eisenhower’s command, Allied forces invaded the beaches at Normandy, bringing an end to Nazi rule.
Following the war, Eisenhower anticipated retirement, and he and Mamie searched for a place they could call their own. In 1950, the Eisenhowers purchased a farm near Gettysburg, but Eisenhower was called to serve the United States again as commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Europe.
In 1952, Eisenhower became the 34th president of the United States. During his term as president, the Eisenhowers’ Gettysburg home became a temporary White House while President Eisenhower recuperated from a heart attack he suffered in November 1955. While he was in office, President Eisenhower entertained a steady stream of dignitaries, including Soviet Premier Khrushchev, at Camp David, Md., and at his Gettysburg farm.
In 1961, however, Eisenhower retired to his Gettysburg farm where he and Mamie both lived until their deaths. In 1967, the Eisenhowers gifted their farm to the federal government. Congress designated the property Eisenhower National Historic Site. The National Park Service opened the site to the public in 1980.
Lessons of Leadership and Preservation at Gettysburg
Eisenhower often used the Gettysburg battlefield to discuss leadership and the development of leaders. He also used his farm to host discussions with notable world leaders. He particularly liked the informal atmosphere of the back porch, noting that it allowed him to “get the other man’s equation.”
President Eisenhower also believed in battlefield preservation. “The battlefield should be preserved as a remembrance made by the men who fought for the things in which they believed,” he once said.
Explore Eisenhower National Historic Site at Gettysburg
A visit to Gettysburg National Military Park should also include a stop at the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Tickets are available at the ticket counter in the lobby of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Access to the site is by shuttle bus only, which departs on a regular schedule from the Museum and Visitor Center.