Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Posts Tagged ‘Eisenhower

American Presidency, Part I.

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Iconic Photos look back at the most iconic presidential photos from 1939 – 1974.

You don’t need Iconic Photos to tell you that there is an election campaign going on in the United States, especially if you live in America. Despite all limitations and checks & balances on his power, the President of the United States is often considered to be the Most Powerful Man on the planet, and the Presidency itself a bully pulpit.

Modern American presidency as we know it today began under Franklin Delano Roosevelt; many remember FDR as an avuncular figure from news reels and radio broadcasts, the man who won the Second World War. Meanwhile his crippling polio was largely kept out of the public eye until Time magazine controversially published a photo featuring his wheelchair.

His successor, Harry Truman, was best remembered photographically for a premature headline, calling the 1948 Presidential Election for his opponent. While he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, Dwight D. Eisenhower had some memorable photos, but as president, he presided over a largely uneventful decade during which American military and economic might was nothing but rapidly ascendent. It was hardly surprising that he left the White House with high approval ratings (only tempered by Sputnik and U2 incident).

Jack Kennedy, too, enjoyed high approval rates; he also enjoyed Eisenhower’s counsel, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco; two presidents walking hunched-shoulder to hunched-shoulder was memorably captured in an award winning photo by Paul Vathis. The Loneliest Job — another image of Kennedy’s unique silhouette — makes, at least to this writer, the definitive portrait of an American presidency.

Lyndon Johnson entered the pantheon of iconic images on the very first day of his presidency as he was haphazardly sworn in on the Air Force One. When he finally left Washington five years later, he had already presided over a disastrous war. Jack E. Kightlinger’s photo of anguished Johnson listening to a tape from Vietnam makes a sombering picture.

While one of Nixon’s most memorable photos was made when he was Eisenhower’s Vice President. His ‘debate’ with the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev solidified his foreign policy credentials. A decade later, he would leave the White House equally memorably.

(To be continued….)

Links for bigger photos: Big Three; FDR in a wheelchair; Truman; Kennedy & Eisenhower; JFK and son; the Loneliest Job; Johnson sworn in; anguished Johnson; the Kitchen Debate; Nixon departs

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Also, I have been asked to pass on this message from a reader. Apparently, there is a social media platform called LiveCitizen/Fix*Us; it lets users weigh in on campaign issues, soliciting solution for pressing problems. A winner will be selected from each category and will receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. I think it’s an intellectually stimulating challenge. Check it out here. Disclaimer: I don’t get any commission from them.

 

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

October 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

American spy plane downed in hostile territory (1960)

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Downing on an American unmanned drone over Iran recalls a bitter Cold War episode, writes IP.  

On May Day 1960, a U2 flight left the US base in Pakistan to photograph ICBM sites inside the Soviet Union; the flight was supposed to take advantage of the Soviet holiday, but all units of the Soviet Air Defence Forces were on red alert and the plane was subsequently shot down.

As the rumors spread that Moscow shot down an American spy plane, the US government believed that the plane was fully destroyed and its pilot dead, and declared that it was a research vessel. On May 7, however, Soviet Premier Khrushchev angrily revealed that the pilot was alive and had the wreckage of the plane exhibited in the Chess Pavilion in Moscow’s Gorky Park Moscow — where captured German military equipment was put on display during the war.

To the invited diplomats and journalists, Khrushchev told that he does not intend to bring up the plane incident at the impending summit meeting with President Eisenhower, but his glee was palpable. Life photographer Carl Mydans, who took the picture above, was soon hustled out of the building by two Soviet officers who thought he was a spy because he was “taking pictures too systematically.” However, they did not confiscate his film.

Although Mydans was not employed by the U.S. government, it didn’t stop the Pentagon from using his photos. The designers of U-2 spy plane was able to learn what happened and what sort of missile hit the plane based on their analysis of Mydans’ photographs of the wreckage. How the plane was brought down was never fully explained, but his pictures and the intactness of the wreckage casts doubt on Khurschev’s claims that a SAM2 missile downed the plane at high attitude.

The U-2 incident marked the birthpangs of another era of Soviet-American confrontations after a few years of calm following Stalin’s death. Coming just over two weeks before the scheduled opening of an East–West summit in Paris, it poisoned the atmosphere around the meeting. An invitation for the President to visit the Soviet Union was abruptly withdrawn, and Eisenhower left office without fulfilling his dreams of ending the Cold War.

Ironically, for all the trouble it caused, the U2 was already outdated by the time the Soviets shot it down. Three months later, it was quietly replaced by the Discoverer spy satellite; The doomed flight was in fact the last U2 flight over Soviet territory.

(See the wreakage here)

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

December 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm

The U-2 Incident

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On May Day, 1960, Francis Gary Powers left the US base in Peshawar on a mission to photograph ICBM sites inside the Soviet Union. It would be the twenty-fourth U-2 spy mission over Soviet territory. Although it was a Soviet holiday, all units of the Soviet Air Defence Forces were on red alert as they suspected a U-2 flight and Powers was subsequently shot down.

The United States used NASA to issue a statement saying the plane was a research vessel, but soon Moscow was full of rumors of a downed American spy plane. THe American story was made up using the assumptions that the plane was fully destroyed and that Powers was dead. However, Nikita Khrushchev gave a detailed account of the American version of the U-2’s flight and then disproved it point by point to the Supreme Soviet. It was an international humiliation for Eisenhower administration.

On May 11, the Soviet government suddenly convened journalists and diplomats to the Chess Pavilion in Gorky Park. Khrushchev surveyed the big room filled with aircraft debris. LIFE photographer Carl Mydans was among those invited over, and he began taking photos as much as he could. After some time, two Soviet officers hustled me out the door for the Soviets suspected that he was a spy for he was “taking pictures too systematically.” However, they did not confiscate his film. Although Mydans was not employed by the U.S. government, it didn’t stop the Pentagon from perusing his photos. The designers of U-2 spy plane was able to learn what happened and what sort of missile hit the plane based on their analysis of Mydans’ photographs of the wreckage.

The U-2 incident marked the birthpangs of another era of Soviet-American confrontations after a few years of calm following Stalin’s death. Coming just over two weeks before the scheduled opening of an East–West summit in Paris, it poisoned the atmosphere around the meeting. An invitation to the President to visit the Soviet Union was abruptly withdrawn, and Eisenhower finished his presidency with his dreams of ending the Cold War unfulfilled. In August 1960, the need for the U2 disappeared with the use of US Discoverer spy satellites; Powers’s was the last U2 flight over Soviet territory.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

July 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm

“I’ll be darned”

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On April 12, 1951, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was chatting with two French generals and a handful of press representatives on a hilltop near Coblenz, Germany when a reporter informed him that President Truman had fired General Douglas MacArthur, who was fighting the Korean War in the Far East. Associated Press correspondent Dick O’Malley: “General, have you heard the news about Gen. MacArthur?” . Eisenhower: “No, what happened? M: “He’s been relieved of his Far East command by President Truman and replaced by General Ridgeway.” Eisenhower turned away and said, “I’ll be darned.”

The moment was captured by American military magazine, Star and Stripes’ Francis “Red” Grandy, who was anticipating a similar kind of reaction. Although his editors were worried that the photo might offend the general, it ran on Page 1, two columns wide two days later. The photo was picked up by several major news services and published in newspapers across the U.S. It later won many prizes and reappeared not only in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but also in a volume of the best news pictures of a quarter-century published in Life magazine and on Eisenhower’s own obituary.

In fact, Ike served as MacArthur’s aide for grueling nine years during the 30s in Washington and the Philippines. He disliked MacArthur for his vanity, his theatrics, and for what Eisenhower perceived as “irrational” behavior, which culminated in their falling out over the Bonus Army March. MacArthur, who finished top in his class at West Point looked down at Ike, who finished at the bottom and detested resources being diverted from the Pacific theater to Europe under Ike.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

April 22, 2010 at 8:22 am

Posted in Politics, War

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Eisenhower’s Inauguration

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Life magazine reflects on the above photo, taken by Hank Walker on President Eisenhower’s first inauguration: “This scene has a democratic feel to it, with the mighty being made to take a joke. Times change, however, and this photograph makes us aware how much. Today’s lasso tosser would have to deal with bulletproof glass and a very nervous Secret Service.” The Hollywood cowboy Monty Montana did ask Ike’s permission before he lassoed the leader of the Free World. At the back, former president Herbert Hoover raised his arm to protect himself from the lasso.

Inauguration ’53 didn’t go that smoothly. In 1947, Harry Truman asked Eisenhower to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1948, with Truman as his vice-presidential running mate. The Republican-leaning general didn’t like Truman very much and viewed Truman as an inept leader who had surrounded himself with cronies. Truman was apprehensive that Eisenhower would undo his efforts to end the Korean War and other aspects of his foreign policy. He also never forgave Ike for not denouncing Senator Joseph McCarthy during the campaign and said Eisenhower “has betrayed almost everything I thought he stood for.”

By the time, they rode together as president and president-elect to Eisenhower’s inauguration, the mutual hatred was evident. Eisenhower wondered aloud “if I can stand sitting next to that guy,” and to irritate the outgoing President, he wore a Homburg rather than a traditional silk top hat. When Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower arrived at the White House to pick up the president, they not only refused to enter for coffee with the Trumans, but stayed in the vehicle until Truman came outside.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

January 11, 2010 at 1:39 am

Posted in Politics

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