Holocaust museum honors Eisenhower

June 07, 1994|By Newsday

WASHINGTON -- Nazi concentration camp survivors and their liberators yesterday dedicated the U.S. Holocaust Museum's plaza in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the nation's capital, like much of the country, took time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander and an architect of the D-Day invasion, visited Nazi death camps and helped publicize atrocities there. The plaza dedication is the first memorial to Eisenhower, who served as president from 1953 to 1961, in the capital.

"The Jewish people have a long history," said Judah Nadich, a rabbi emeritus at New York's Park Avenue Synagogue, who was an Army chaplain during World War II and served as Eisenhower's personal adviser on Jewish affairs. "It does not forget its persecutors or its enemies. It does not forget its liberators or its friends. It will remember Dwight David Eisenhower."

James B. Lipinski, 74, of Alexandria, Va., who stormed the Normandy beach as a member of the Army's 1st Division, said that soldiers would have done anything for Eisenhower.

"He had charm, he had charisma, and he had brains," Mr. Lipinski said.

For John J. Spano, a 74-year-old Navy retiree from Bethesda, Md., who attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Washington's Navy Memorial yesterday, it was a time to reflect on being 24, aboard a Navy ship, and watching a Normandy beach "completely ablaze" as D-Day raged.

"D-Day is important because reflection establishes continuity of pride," said Mr. Spano. "There will never not be wars, so it is important to remember."

Vice President Al Gore, speaking at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, praised the contributions of veterans and civilians during the war.

"Today there is much to be hopeful about," Mr. Gore said. "The Cold War is over. The Berlin Wall has fallen. . . . But there is is so much more to do. If standing here in Arlington Cemetery, if commemorating the sacrifices of D-Day and the Allied war effort teaches us anything, it teaches us our incredible capacity to help each other."

At the somber ceremony at the Navy Memorial, Paul O'Neill of Upper Marlboro, Md., said yesterday's events were a way of "honoring the lost," not just of World War II, but of all wars.

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