The Space Race - May 30, 2014
Q: President Dwight Eisenhower grew up in Abilene, helped win World War Two and got elected president - twice! But wait, that’s not all. He also launched America into the space race when he established NASA in 1958. Perhaps this is why you’ll find a heavenly body depicted on the reverse side of every Eisenhower dollar coin ever minted. What celestial body appears on the “tails side” of all Ike Eisenhower dollars?
General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, talking to U.S. Airborne troops on the eve of D-Day. (Photo Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society/www.kansasmemory.org)
A: the Moon
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas in 1890 but he grew up in Abilene and always considered it his hometown. Among his many accomplishments (like… planning the D-Day invasion, winning the war in Europe, becoming a five-star general, president of Columbia University and supreme commander of NATO, getting elected U.S. president twice, ending the Korean War, sending federal troops to Little Rock, Ark., to enforce desegregation and creating the interstate highway system), Eisenhower established NASA in 1958!
Eisenhower died in March of 1969, just four months before the Apollo 11 mission put a man on the Moon. The reverse side of the Eisenhower dollar coin depicts an eagle landing on the Moon. The eagle symbolizes the Apollo 11 lunar module - as in, “the eagle has landed.” Even the Bicentennial version of the coin – which features the Liberty Bell – includes a picture of the Moon on the reverse side.