For many residents in the city of Denison, April 20, 1946 was the day a hometown hero finally came back home. After his service in World War II, future U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower return to Denison and the home where he was born in October 1890.
I was reminded of the anniversary by my father, who sometimes takes note of my interest in history, on Thursday. With such a strong local connection, I couldn’t help but take interest.
Despite being born in Denison to a father who worked on the railroad, Eisenhower often called Abilene, Kansas, where he grew up, his hometown. This didn’t stop the people of Denison from claiming him as one of their own.
As the story goes, Eisenhower was invited to Denison by Jennie Jackson, a retired school principal who held him as a baby in the small home the Eisenhower family lived in more than a half-century prior. At the time, Jackson and others were working to purchase and restore the home due to Ike’s status as a war hero.
During the visit, Eisenhower had breakfast in the small kitchen of his birthplace with friend and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. Eisenhower rode in a parade and spoke to a crowd of about 50,000 during the visit.
Little did the people of Denison know, they were taking the first steps to restore and protect the home of a future two-term U.S. president.
It is moments like that which always catch my curiosity in history: those historic moments where people don’t fully know the importance of the moment. Did Jennie Jackson know she was working to save the birthplace of a president? Did she have any idea that Eisenhower would go on to do more than his service in the war?
In honor of the anniversary, the Eisenhower Birthplace will be hosting a volunteer appreciation breakfast with Denison Main Street at the birthplace grounds from 9-11 a.m. Saturday.
Happy birthday Friday to Art Decker and Averial Stovall, both of Sherman; Daniel Helm of Denison; Connie Mitchusson and Levi Barzon-Ertel of Houston.