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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ike Returns to Denison

By Robin Gilliam, Eisenhower Birthplace Site Manager

The Eisenhower Birthplace recently hosted researcher/actor Bruce Hoff as Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower in a character portrayal of the World War II hero. Like the real general's first visit back to his birthplace in 1946, local residents were invited to come for lunch (free hot dogs) and to hear the famous man talk about the war in Europe.

Our program was held the weekend closest to the June 6th D-Day anniversary, which coincided with a reunion of the Army's 297 Combat Engineers. Only a handful of the now-elderly men were able to attend the gathering this year, but they were all interviewed by local media before Hoff's presentation as Eisenhower.

Bruce Hoff as "Ike," posing before the bronze sculpture by artist Robert Dean at Eisenhower Birthplace. Photo by Gary Sewell, Herald Democrat.

Wearing the short uniform jacket the general designed for the U.S. Army, the actor addressed a crowd of nearly 200 people on the lawn of the historic site. As he does at the Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, Hoff stayed in character, speaking from the vantage point of 1947, just two years after the war ended.

After his speech, "Ike" answered questions from the audience that also included a rare female veteran of World War II. The former WAC was a delight to chat with, and still very active for her age. Her daughter emailed the Eisenhower Birthplace later that evening, expressing what many of the visitors had told our staff that afternoon:

“Thank you so much for a lovely day. You were all wonderful. The speaker "Ike" was so personable and knowledgeable. I could have listened to him for hours. My mother was with me. She is a WWII veteran. She wanted me to tell you that she enjoyed today as much as she enjoyed her 90th birthday party. Thank you so much for doing this. You are the best!”

Eisenhower Birthplace is located in Denison, approximately 75 miles north of Dallas. The site is part of the Texas Lakes Trail Region.

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