January 17

This Day in History

General Interest

Jan 17, 1961:

Eisenhower bids farewell

On January 17, 1961, in a nationally televised speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses the American people for the last time as president. Expressing ideas that seem prophetic in retrospect, Eisenhower offered his fears and hopes for the future, warning against the unfettered growth of the "military-industrial complex," as he coined it, and calling for diplomacy, restraint, and compassion in dealing with future crises with the Soviet Union. Despite his sadness that peace was not in sight, the great Allied commander offered a closing prayer to the world from America. "We pray," he said, "that people of all faiths, all races, all nations...will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love."

Three days later, Eisenhower left the White House and retired with his wife, Mamie, to their farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, their permanent home until Eisenhower's death on March 28, 1969. The couple had been fond of sitting on their back porch, which looked east toward the famous Civil War battlefield.

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