The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle: Heroes honored at DDE Day

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Press | 0 comments

National and local every day heroes were honored and a special announcement was made at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Day Thursday morning.  Three thousand area school children, along with dignitaries, scholars and government officials attended the annual event to pay tribute ti Dwight D. Eisenhower, soldiers and other every day heroes who have made an impact on the lives of others.

School children from Abilene and other surrounding districts packed the Eisenhower Center grounds as Dan Holt welcomed the audience.  In a special announcement, Julie Lorenz , director of public affairs for the Kansas Department of  Transportation, announced, on behalf of Governor Kathleen  Sebelius, that a building in Topeka will be named after Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The former Security Group building, known as the Harrison Center in Topeka, will be named the Dwight D. Eisenhower State office building.  Lorenz said Eisenhower’s name was chosen  for the building because state officials wanted someone who was a well known around the world and who had made a significant contribution to transportation.

The former president fit the criteria and is known as the father of the great interstate system, Interstate 70. Lorenz  quoted a poem by James Griffin, which was written about the highway system.

“Roads, like leaders, have always inspired poets and writers,” she said.  Dan Holt introduced four members of the Easy Company, 406th Regiment, 101st Airborne– Lynn          “Buck  Compton, Forest Guth, Don Malarkey and William Wingett, along with wingett’s brother Kenneth Wingett, who later served with his brother in the 82nd Airborne.

The group of men were heroes  of World War II and were also the subjects of the famed mini series, Band of brothers. along with Dwight D. Eisenhower Day, the men will the Eisenhower dinner on Oct. 15 at the Wreath Laying Ceremony on Oct. 16. Holt said the four men represent all men and women who served in the military.

Merrill eisenhower  Atwater , great grandson of the former president, also spoke on behalf of the men. Atwater asked the question, ” what is heroism ?”  Heroism is the act of putting yourself in harm’s way and giving up your life for others,” he said. ” My great grandfather was like that.”

Atwater said his great grandfather wrote his great grandmother and told her that he would  take full responsibility for the battle of Normandy and what happened. He would not want himself  thought as a hero,” Atwater said. He believed his troops were the heroes.” As Atwater pointed at Compton, Guth, malarkey and Wingett he said, “these four men make heroes.”

Dr. Dennis Denenberg, professor emeritus  Millersville  University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Andy Thompkins, Kansas commissioner of education and MM1 First class Petty Officer Steven Eddy of the USS Eisenhower also spoke to the crowd about what kind of person a hero is.

Denenberg described Dwight D. Eisenhower as a man who wore many hats in life. Eisenhower wore a father’s hat because he was a father and a general’s hat because he was a general.” Denenberg also said  Eisenhower wore a collage hat because he was a collage president of Colombia University and that the president had a brilliant mind.”  He also wore a president’s hat  a golfer’s hat and a gentleman’s hat.

“Dwight wore many hats just like you will life,” Denenberg told the children. Thompkins described a hero as a selfless, brave, noble and humble person. ” Sometimes we call” people heroes because of acts of braveness, relationships we form, or the people who call us higher purposes, like Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr.” Thompkins said.

Eddy said the audience that soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who answer the call of duty and leave everything behind are heroes. the families they leave behind are also heroes.

” There are more than 3,000 men and women on the USS Eisenhower willing to fight for their  country and knowing that they are into harm’s way and not knowing if they are coming back,” Eddy said

The average age of service members on his ship is 19 1/2 years old.  Eddy also reiterated that everyday people can be heroes and that people and children in the audience themselves may be  heroes to someone else.

Local heroes honored at the event police chief  Brian Dunlap,   fired chief Bob Sims, sheriff Curt ennet, Red cross director June Deweese, D.A.R.E  officer Angie Casteel and an  employee of the Abilene Parks and Recreation Department, Chase Topliff.