KANSAS CITY, KS – Mary Jean Eisenhower understands the weight of what her grandfather saw and experienced in the Second World War.
'They really had each other`s back and I think that`s one of the reasons when he was commanding the allied forces that he was able to get along with everybody on all sides, whether he liked them or not, says Mary Jean Eisenhower, Granddaughter of Dwight D. Eisenhower. 'They never knew one way or the other. But he was always able to adapt to different personalities.'
'You think of him as this great commander for D-day but truth be told he only went back to Normandy once,' adds Mary Jean. 'The pictures of him in Normandy he is so clearly bereaved. The pictures almost give me chills to look at cause he`s clearly bereaved to be back.'
During World War II her father John was Ike`s aid and a lieutenant colonel in the Army.
'He graduated from West Point on D-Day,' says Eisenhower. 'West Point had an accelerated class, it was the class of ‘44. They were three years instead of four. I guess all his classmates got to go off and have leave and Daddy went off to England to be with Granddad.'
John later worked with his father Ike, in the White House.
And for her first eight years of life on this Earth, Mary Jean divided her time between the family farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the White House in Washington D.C.
'Yes,' says Mary Jean.
'You have a personal connection,' says Patrick Clark.
'Yes, my social security number starts out 111,' says Eisenhower. 'Apparently that`s a code, that`s what I heard.'
During her grandad`s eight years in the oval office from 1953-1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower is said to have played politics the way he played poker, with a hidden hand, much better than his opponents realized.
'You know when you think of a warrior, he was not a warrior per se was a soldier of peace,' says Eisenhower. 'He was, one of the tongue in cheeks quotes was `we`ll have peace even if we have to fight for it. `'
Mary Jean recalls finding photo albums later with pictures from WWII and concentration camps stuck inside between family photos and notes.
'In describing how Patton couldn`t stay on because he felt like he`d be sick,' recalls Mary Jean.
'He (Ike) said he felt like he had to because he said, `It was his responsibility to witness what was going on. `And he made the local people come in that were ignoring it. And he made them help bury the dead.'
After leaving the White House, Dwight Eisenhower, the former president, five-star general, and veteran of WWII began his Kansas City based non-profit People-to-People International.
'We do educational, cultural and humanitarian exchanges outside of government,' says Mary Jean. 'How`d he put it? If the people will only get together so will the nations.'
Today, 60-years after it began, Mary Jean Eisenhower continues her grandfather`s program of personal diplomacy and creating a more peaceful world without governmental interference.
'People to People was his solution to the whole peace process, because he said you`re not just going to pick up arms against your friends. It`s just not going to happen. You`re not going to do it. In fact, one of his quotes that I love is, `The people want peace so badly that the governments will have to step aside and let them have it.”