Denison residents gather to show how much they 'like Ike'

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DENISON, TX -- Texomans gathered Tuesday to show how much they like "Ike" for the 40th birthday of the famous Dwight Eisenhower statue.

Denison natives, like Vietnam veteran Robert Foster, said Eisenhower brings a sense of pride to the city.

"It kinda brings a tear," he said. "It's nice knowing that Denison had a commander in chief and president. We'd just light up."

It's why he joined other residents in commemorating the statue's birthday.

Site manager John Akers said it was the first of five Eisenhower statues built by renowned sculptor Robert Dean.

"You now a lot of people felt very warmly toward him in WWII. And I think the statue really covers that," Akers said. "Dean said it was his favorite of the series."

The other four statues are at West Point Academy, Eisenhower's presidential library in Kansas, the U.S. Embassy in London, and the site of the D-Day invasion.

"At that time it costs $30,000," Akers said. "But 10 years later the other statue was like $300,000 so it went up quite a bit."

Akers said the statue is unusual because Ike isn't wearing a military hat and he isn't standing at military attention. But they've embraced the pose as more of an "at ease" statue.

Officials commemorated the statue by enlightening visitors on its history and giving free tours of Ike's birth house.

Akers said the site attracts thousands of people each year.

"It's dedicated to young people everywhere. May he be an inspiration," he said.

Foster said he got to see Ike in person during one of the president's three visits to his home town.

"The military honored him. I honored him," Foster said. "He's a good man."

At 9 feet tall, the statue is actually larger than life size. Which some may say is a pretty fitting description of Ike himself - larger than life.

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