Those in the know were not particularly surprised to see Kaitlyn Bennett come on campus around graduation dolled up as she was--her mortar board darlingly decorated with a dare, and her brother's assault rifle, with scope, slung over her shoulder. News stories claim that she was an outspoken 2nd amendment advocate during her tenure as a student and that she wasn't at all shy about shooting off her mouth about the subject. Get this--she was a student at Kent State University.
Still, there was enough in the photo--she hired a photographer--to grab on-line attention: that incredible mane flowing mightily over her back and a doll-like, sleeveless dress, hemmed several inches up from mid-thigh. Somehow, it's not a particularly collegiate composition. Then again, maybe it is, sex and violence never really going out of style.
The photo went viral, more than 40 thousand retweets and twenty thousand likes. If the scope on your rifle sees the second amendment as most crucial of all our rights, then Kaitlyn Bennett's commencement get-up is drop-dead gorgeous, I guess. Even got her a spot on Fox and Friends, I'm told.
Couldn't help but notice the image myself, to be frank; but another place and time flashed by just then, a place we visited just a couple of days ago, the meditation chapel on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas, Ike's hometown. He's buried there, as is his wife, Mamie, as well as their son, Dowd, or "Ikky," as they called him, who died at just four years old from scarlet fever in 1921. The biers of Mom and Dad are outlined in the floor of a quiet place lit mainly by what hues come in through stained glass.
I don't know whether Kaitlyn Bennett knows much about Ike. Maybe she does. I hope so. But those of us who remember him or have spent much time thinking about World War II know Dwight David Eisenhower not only as the 39th President of these United States, but also the Supreme Commander of the Combined Allied Forces in Europe during that war. If you remember him well, you may well remember this, too.
That's General Eisenhower talking to GIs on June 5, 1944, the day before many of them--perhaps many of them in this photograph--were going to die on the beaches of Normandy. He knew that far better than they did, because he knew what lay in store for them when they came off those amphibious landing craft in the biggest sea-going operation in the history of mankind. Ike knew war.
And that's why it shouldn't be ironic, I suppose, that someone who knew death--death at his hands--better than almost anyone, would have, up there on the wall of his tomb, and that of Mamie, a line from a speech he gave.
Here it is:
It's not surprising at all, I suppose, that when I read Kaitlyn's story, I thought of Ike in England, one night in early June, waiting for the skies to clear over the English Channel, waiting and hoping and praying. And then, I'm sure, praying some more.Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. . .This is not a way of life at all. . .Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of gold."The Chance for Peace" Address, Washington D. C., April 15, 1953
I feel obligated to say that I wrote this BEFORE what happened this morning in Sante Fe, Texas.