Tom Hanks Joins Official Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Team

Can the actor help make Frank Gehry's memorial design a reality?

A rendering of Frank Gehry's design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo: Gehry Partners.
A rendering of Frank Gehry's design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC. Courtesy of Gehry Partners.

The newest member of the team working to create the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, is none other than Tom Hanks. Joining the advisory committee is his way to “honor the sacrifices of Ike’s troops and all those who served in that global conflict,” the actor explained in a statement released by the memorial commission.

Congress first green-lit the memorial to the country’s 34th commander-in-chief 15 years ago, but the project still remains on the drawing board. Efforts to create the memorial have met with considerable delays over the years, but perhaps the Oscar Award-winning actor’s involvement will give the beleaguered project the push it needs to reach completion.

The memorial’s design, by Frank Gehry, has not been particularly well-received, with members of Congress and Eisenhower’s family voicing their displeasure with the architect’s vision. Gehry was forced to scale back his proposal, which originally contained three long steel tapestries that many feared would block views of the US Capitol. Now the monument includes just one, featuring scenes from the Kansas countryside.

Tom Hanks in <em>Saving Private Ryan</em>.

Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan.

This past fall, after a two-year delay, the design finally received official approval from the National Capital Planning Commission and the United States Commission of Fine Art.

Hanks has a well-known interest in the Second World War, having co-produced the HBO World War II miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) with Steven Spielberg, and narrated The War, Ken Burn’s 2007 documentary on the global conflict. Among Hanks’s most memorable roles was his star turn in 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, an epic war drama recounting the Invasion of Normandy.

Other members of the memorial’s committee, who consult with the commission on fundraising, among other issues, include former senator Robert J. Dole, former Republican National Committee chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.

In a statement, commission chairman and senator Pat Roberts (a Republican from Kansas, Eisenhower’s home state) expressed his happiness that Hanks had signed on with the memorial, calling him “a committed proponent of the Greatest Generation.”

Previously, Hanks was the national spokesman for the fundraising campaign for the National World War II Memorial, completed in 2004, and was the honorary chairperson of the D-Day Museum capital campaign.

eisenhower-memorial-maquette

A model of Frank Gehry’s design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC.
Photo: Gehry Partners.

Financial concerns are still holding the project back, as Congress has withheld funding since 2012, when it last allotted $32 million to the project. The committee cannot break ground on the memorial until it has raised money to cover the entire construction cost, which is estimated at $142 million.

Related Stories:

Will Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Design Finally Get Built?

Artist Creates Giant Face on Washington DC’s National Mall


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