EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 19, 2009

Front page inaugural history: They liked Ike


WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight D. Eisenhower opened his inaugural speech with "a little private prayer of my own," an unusual, even intimate prelude to remarks that sketched the nuclear-tinged dangers of the time in stark terms and before a vast audience.

Americans tuned in like never before, for this was the first inauguration shown live on TV across the country.

Washington offered a rousing welcome to the man who had led allied forces in Europe to victory. Republicans were especially thrilled, because Jan. 20, 1953, ended 20 years of Democratic control of the White House.

The Associated Press has been going back in history to find its stories from inauguration days long ago. Here is an excerpt from two AP stories on Ike's inauguration as they appeared on the front page of The Bradford (Pa.) Era, Jan. 21, 1953.

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Ike Pledges to Seek Peace With Honor

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (AP) — Dwight D. Eisenhower became president of the United States today and, with a prayer on his lips, set for his new administration a goal of peace with honor. It must be a peace based on strength and unity in the free world, he said, and there must be no appeasement, because:

"A soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains."

In a moving, dignified ritual as old as the nation itself, the smalltown boy from Kansas took the oath that made him America's 34th chief executive.

Then, in a brief inaugural address from a platform beneath the great grey dome of the Capitol, Eisenhower laid down for "free men everywhere" a challenge to join together against the world menace of communism.

For America, the new President accepted a role of leadership in this mighty effort to gain abiding peace, "to produce this unity, to meet the challenge of our time."

Bareheaded under a warm sun fighting through a haze, Eisenhower slowly repeated after Chief Justice Vinson of the Supreme Court the oath that brought to an end a 20-year era of Democratic rule and embarked the GOP on its "great crusade."

The GOP followed through, with an immense inaugural victory parade. Mile after mile, between walls of yelling happy humanity, it rolled along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. ...

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Ike Cheered Loudly Along Parade Route

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (AP) — They liked Ike with a million-throated accolade today. In wild screeching rebel yells and cowboy whoops and hollers, they rolled it out along the dense-packed parade route from Capitol Hill to the White House:

"Yeee-a-a-a-a-a-ay, Ike!"

That was the keynote sound for the hours-long inaugural parade which Dwight D. Eisenhower led down historic Pennsylvania Avenue, then reviewed from a stand in front of his new White House home.

The pageant itself was, in extravaganza form, a slice right out of the complexities that make up America — bathing beauties and a Bible; the doves that represent aspirations of peace and the nation's most lethal arms for protection against peacebreakers; and a whole train of floats telling a story that only could happen in America — Eisenhower's own rise from simple beginnings to the most powerful office on earth.

Dwarfing even the blare of 62 bands, the thundering Niagara of cheers for the new President boomed across the flag-bedecked city and cascaded by radio and TV networks from coast to coast. ...

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Also on the front page: AP reports from New York that the inauguration is the first telecast coast to coast. Restaurants with TVs fill up while those without sets go empty; children watch the ceremonies at school or are sent home. At the New York Stock Exchange, trading drops by half during the ceremonies and the exchange's luncheon club, which has a set, is jammed, with many standing on chairs to watch.

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NEXT and FINAL: Abraham Lincoln