Your Excellency, your Grace, Ambassador Eisenhower nearly forty-four years have passed since General Eisenhower drove through the streets of London to our ancient Guildhall, streets lined by hundreds of thousands of people celebrating the end of the war in Europe.
He was a hero to them all. He will always be a hero, his name for ever associated with the great campaigns and victories of World War II. [end p1]
He was also a very modest hero. At the moment of his greatest triumph in 1945 his thoughts were with those who were not present to share it. He spoke in his speech at the Guildhall of “the humility which must always be the portion of anyone who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifice of his friends” . [end p2]
Winston Churchill called him “a great Commander who could not only lead an army but stir men's hearts” , and that is how we remember him.
They were qualities which served him well as Supreme Allied Commander Europe during the early days of NATO, helping to forge that great Alliance which has been both our defence and the guarantee of our freedom. [end p3]
General Eisenhower was a soldier who believed profoundly in peace. “There is no place on earth to which I would not travel” , he once said “there is no chore which I would not undertake, if I had any faintest hope that by doing so I would promote the general cause of world peace” . [end p4]
But his peace was not peace at any price, it was peace with freedom and justice, peace through strength and resolve.
That we in Europe are secure in our freedom now owes much to men like General Eisenhower, who had the vision and inner strength to stand up to Stalin's wish to advance the Iron Curtain westwards. [end p5]
We remember him too as President at a time when the United States had a near monopoly of nuclear weapons. Yet that power was always used wisely and with restraint, never for conquest or aggrandisement.
He was a true leader of his country and of the free world, his Presidency remembered as a [end p6] Golden Age of peace and prosperity.
How appropriate it is we unveil this monument just a very few days after another great American President, Ronald Reagan, brought to successful conclusion his equally historic two-term Presidency! And a third, President Bush, is responding to the challenge of tomorrow. [end p7]
Our memory of President Eisenhower is of a friendly and unassuming man.
He was proud of his rather humble origins in Denison, Texas and Abilene, Kansas. We one and all knew him as Ike.
We all liked Ike. [end p8]
For us, perhaps his greatest contribution of all was his part in forging the Anglo-American alliance, not just at the highest political level but in a very practical, everyday fashion.
He thought not only as an American, but like an ally.
He talked of kinship, saying that it depended on inner things, on the rights and values [end p9] that free men pursue.
In defence of these values, he said, a Londoner would fight and so would a citizen of Abilene. And thus the valley of the Thames drew closer to the plains of Kansas and Texas.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for the past five years, [end p10] we have been privileged to have another friendly mid-Westener here in London as Charles PriceUnited States Ambassador. We thank you, Charlie and Carol, for all that you have done in the spirit of kinship, for your country and for ours. We shall always remember your years with us, truly representing a great President of a great country.
We thank also Mr. and Mrs. Donald Hall and the people of Kansas City for their generosity [end p11] in raising this statue here in Grosvenor Square in honour of President Eisenhower, and in recognition of your time—Charlie—as Ambassador. We are proud that those years of service and of friendship now have a permanent memorial here—with Ike: —close to his wartime headquarters: —close to your Embassy: [end p12] —and close to the tribute to the men of the United States Eagle Squadron who flew so gallantly with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
So once again, Ike stands shoulder to shoulder with us, under the skies of London.
He stands proudly in the company of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the President who [end p13] brought the United States to the support of Britain during the Second World War.
He stands where ordinary British people— former soldiers, office workers, housewives—waited twenty years ago, to pay tribute to the memory of the man who came to us—as he himself put it— “from the very heart of America” . [end p14]
London boasts many statues. That of Ike will have a special place in our hearts and in our capital city.