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Ex-President Celebrates Eisenhower

October 13, 2002

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ABILENE, Kan. (AP) _ Former President George H.W. Bush praised the leadership of the nation’s 34th president as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s hometown celebrated his legacy Saturday.

``I didn’t just like Ike, I respected him,″ Bush said, not just because of Eisenhower’s presidency but because of his ``dedicated service in uniform.″

Calling Eisenhower ``the very conscience of American leadership″, Bush urged a gathering of more than 4,000 people to ``study Eisenhower’s example carefully and do your best to follow it. If you do, I have no doubt that the best (for the country) is yet to be.″

The former president’s address marked the public opening of a $3.2 million renovation project at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library. The changes allow visitors to participate in problem-solving exercises and history games and see videotaped interviews with members of the Eisenhower administration.

As the nation debates military action against Iraq, Bush urged his audience to take heed of a quote attributed to Eisenhower, commander in chief of Allied forces during World War II.

``Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the final choice, a soldier’s pack is not so heavy as a prisoner’s chains,″ Bush quoted from Eisenhower.

Then, referring to his own son _ George W. Bush _ the former president asked the audience ``for your continued prayers and support for the president of the United States of America.″

``(He) is leading with principle and, in the view of this totally unbiased observer, is making America proud,″ Bush said.

Bush joined a host of state and national political figures in kicking off the center’s celebration of the Eisenhower presidency, which lasted from 1953 to 1961.

Each October, the Eisenhower Center celebrates the popular leader’s birthday. He was born Oct. 14, 1890, in Texas.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s election to the presidency and the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Eisenhower Library.

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