Monday, June 04, 2007

Mamie Eisenhower and the Election of 1952

I found this article in the November 1952 issue of Good Housekeeping while sorting through a collection a few weeks ago. I liked it so much that I've transcribed it for you to enjoy as well. I thought it was a very well written piece with a great message:

“Vote for my husband or for Governor Stevenson, but please vote
by Mamie Eisenhower

When Good Housekeeping asked me to write this piece, my initial reaction was to say an immediate an emphatic “No, thanks.”

I am not a writer.

And then I changed my mind – about this article, anyway. I said “Yes” because of a letter I received from a young girl whom I do not know, have never seen. Here is what she wrote:

Dear Mrs. Eisenhower:
I live with my parents and I am a high-school senior. Although my fellow students and I like to have as much fun as anybody our age, we still have a serious side. Most of our boy friends are now about 18 – old enough to fight, but oddly enough not considered old enough to vote! As a matter of fact, my own boy friend has just been drafted.

Because your son, John, is now in Korea, I thought you of all important Americans would understand what I am going to say. I feel so useless at home, not being about to do anything. Besides, I read that during the last presidential election (when I was still in grammar school) only half of the eligible voting public ever got to the polls! I don’t think this should happen again, so I’ve dreamed up a way to help. On Election Day I am offering my services for free (baby sitting, dishwashing, cleaning house) to any neighborhood mother or wife so she can get out and cast her vote. I talked the scheme over with my girl friends, and they agreed to join me in this teen-age crusade.

But I’d like to reach more people. That is why I am writing this letter. Through you – perhaps – my idea could spread to other towns and other teen-agers.

Respectfully,
Jeannie C-

I am proud to publicize Jeanie’s letter. I hope other teenagers will follow her example. Our sober-thinking young people put to shame the kind of woman who claims she has no time to vote, or who argues “What does one vote matter?” With the right to vote goes a public trust that must be exercised just as surely as any official must exercise his.

During the past year when my husband’s title was Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, I recall walking in Paris and seeing what looked to be window boxes smack against the cement subway wall. I thought, How clever the French are with their flowers. Then I went closer. Though the flowers were still beautiful, I saw they had a purpose. I didn’t have to know much French to understand: Above the buds were seven plagues in memory of six boys and a girl, their ages ranging from eighteen to twenty-two, each shot to death on that spot, August, 1944. Their markers face the Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette lost her royal head, but somehow Marie Antoinette did not concern me; it was those young others dying in my time and even in Jeanie’s time in grammar school. I stood still, as every woman stands when she sees those markers, and I closed my eyes and prayed to God,” Please don’t let this happen again!”

I believe one way to keep it from happening is to use your vote. Whether your ballot goes for an Eisenhower or a Stevenson, cast it. Cast it while you thank your stars you live in a land where you have the privilege of declaring your choice.

I hoped you enjoyed this slice of Mamie. I think her personality comes across really well in this piece.

No comments: