Monday was Presidents Day — at least in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and 26 other states.
In Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri and Virginia, they stick with the day's original honoree and call it George Washington's Birthday.
Regardless of its name, we're celebrating our presidents. And today is a good time to consider one in particular: Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th president, because it's a milestone year to like Ike.
A new, 500-pound statue depicting then-Gen. Eisenhower speaking to U.S. troops is now in place on Independence Avenue in our nation's capital. It will be dedicated May 8, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
The dedication date is appropriate. Gen. Eisenhower commanded the forces that defeated Nazi Germany's drive to conquer Europe and impose a regime dedicated to subjugating its people to Adolf Hitler's Aryan "master race." Defeating this fascist ideology was not easy, but it was a worthy fight in defense of American allies and their ideals of freedom and equality.
The limestone statue was inspired by a photograph of Gen. Eisenhower addressing the 101st Airborne Division soldiers before they went into battle in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The bronze plaque beneath it bears his message to them: "The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!"
At a time when the tide seems to have turned against unity among the free men and women of the world, President Eisenhower is a good example to remember. Both major parties wanted to nominate him in 1952. He ran and governed as a Republican, but not as a partisan.
The statue will be joined by two others, one of Mr. Eisenhower as a boy and another when he was president of the United States.
The large sculpture now in place stands as a symbol of the blood spilled for our nation's ideals, a reminder of what unites us.
The words of unity it bears should serve as a call to drop petty political differences in favor of a national purpose that unites us. There are plenty of these: improved infrastructure to boost the U.S. economy, reduce global emissions and help people get around more easily and cheaply; assistance for small communities that need to bounce back after losing manufacturing jobs to foreign trade; and lower prescription drug prices.
With Mr. Eisenhower's example now just about literally staring them in the face, our leaders in Washington should get together and accomplish these and other priorities. If that spirit could begin today, it would be a Presidents Day gift for the nation.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.