The snow had fallen in massive quantities the night before and the temperature had plummeted to single digits. And the man who had provided steady and unruffled guidance to the United States of America during a potentially turbulent time, likely found himself watching the weather every bit as much as his sense of duty drove him to keep an eye on the very world itself. He had a trip planned that day—one he had been looking forward to for a while. It was more than an excursion from one place to another; it was a journey from glory to glory.
That ever fascinating periodic juncture involving the peaceful national transfer of power from one American president to another becomes its own unique moment chiseled in storied stone. This was certainly the case on January 20, 1961 as John F. Kennedy took the oath of office and spoke eloquently about demands of the times. As he delivered his memorable address in the frigid air, his words accented by his Boston timbre and wisps of fleeting vapor, his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, likely felt the burdensome power of that great office leave him and attach itself to the new man in charge. Another man sitting nearby and watching, absorbed in his own thoughts, was the outgoing Vice President, Richard M. Nixon, who had lost his race to succeed Eisenhower by a controversial whisper-thin margin.
No one knew it at the time, but within a few years a bridge would connect the Eisenhower and Nixon families, as Ike’s grandson, David, and Nixon’s daughter, Julie, would marry and become a potential power couple tempered by cerebral grace and quiet dignity. And as we watch the already well-formed media circus surrounding the impending nuptials of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, it is not hard to imagine what the courtship and marriage of the grandson of one U.S. President to the daughter of another would mean in our age of 24/7 saturation media-bombing.
David was President Eisenhower’s only grandson, and no doubt the apple of his eye. He even renamed the Maryland Presidential retreat for the boy—Camp David. He has shared a fascinating story with us in a new book called, Going Home To Glory—A Memoir Of Life With Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, written with Julie Nixon Eisenhower. Just 12 years old when the 34th President of the United States retired to the pastoral confines of his beloved Gettysburg, Pennsylvania farm, David Eisenhower was uniquely positioned to observe what it was like to become a former President of the United States.