The Unprecedented Melded Families of Eisenhower and Nixon: Where Are They Now?

Eisonhower and Nixon

INTRODUCTORY NOTE: Every blogger who has posted for some years has a few “sugar plum” posts that have been a big hit among his or her readers. I have a few, but one has risen far above any other. This one, from exactly three years ago, was somewhat outside my normal theme but continues to garner readers every day as they discover it in the archives. There has never been a day in three years that my stats didn’t show several views of this post. So, I thought I would re-post it in case you missed it.

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A seemingly nondescript millennial nurse in Ambler, Pennsylvania, has a distinction, shared by his two sisters, unmatched by anyone else in the history of America. He is the grandson and great-grandson of two unrelated U.S. Presidents. He and his two children are in-line descendants of not one, but two of the most powerful men in the history of the world in their day. Yet, Alex Eisenhower, 37, lives a quiet, shift-work life caring for behaviorally challenged children at a psychiatric clinic. Below is a wedding picture of Alex and his bride, Tara, and a recent picture of Alex.

Alexander and Tara Eisenhower's weddingAlexander Eisnehower now

During a visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library recently, I was intrigued by this president’s accomplished, but conflicted, presidency. My interest was also stirred by the bond between the Nixon family and the family of the man he served as VP, President Dwight Eisenhower. That bond was forged through an unprecedented marriage. When President Eisenhower’s grandson, David, married President Nixon’s daughter, Julie, in 1968, they started a blood line that would forever bring distinction to their descendants.

Eisenhower Family Tree (2)

As the family tree above shows, the marriage of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon produce three children, Jennie, Alex (actually Alexander), and Melanie. Melanie just recently married. Christopher Cox is a cousin in their generation from the marriage of President Nixon’s other daughter, Tricia, to Edward Cox.  However, Alex is the only grandchild/great-grandchild of the two presidents who continues the Eisenhower name. His father, David, born in 1948, was in the Navy Reserve and is now a professor of public policy at the University of Pennsylvania. His grandfather, John, born in 1922, was a brigadier general in the Army Reserve, an author, and a political appointee. John died in 2013. Pictured below are David and Julie (left) and John and second wife, Joanne (right).

David and Julie Eisenhower nowJohn and Barbara Eisenhower

President Eisenhower’s son, John, had a successful military and political career, and I believe both David and Alex could have easily lived in the limelight as well. With even average intelligence and reasonable people skills, they could have ridden the heritage of the Eisenhower name into the flag ranks of the military or the top seats in Washington, D.C. Alex, with both presidents in his recent ancestry could have written his own ticket to fame and fortune. Instead, he cares for children whose parents likely don’t even know who he is in Pennsylvania’s Horsham Clinic that few have ever heard of. You know, there is just something really classy about that. If your heart doesn’t match the expectations of  everyone else, follow your heart.

Oh, but remember there is yet another generation. Alex and Tara have two little Eisenhowers–a daughter, Kaia, 10, and a son, Kaeden, 4. Who knows, 30 years from now America might hear the breaking news, “Congressman Kaeden Eisenhower, great-great-grandson of President Dwight Eisenhower and great-grandson of President Richard Nixon, has just announced his candidacy for President. His sister, Kaia Eisenhower, just recently became the youngest general officer in the U.S. Army.”

 

Do We Really Need to Go to Church?

Churches across America will be filled with record crowds again this Easter. The same mass filling of church seats happens at Christmas. However, consistent church attendance and participation have been declining for the last 30 years according to George Barna, renowned researcher of church and Christian behavior. America’s Christians in increasing numbers, especially millennials, are rejecting the church and choosing to practice their faith outside its influence. So, is the church not as important as it once was?

The chart below depicts Barna’s recent finding that almost three-quarters of Americans identify as Christian. It is not politically correct today to state that we are a Christian nation, but truly we are. Six percent are of other faiths, and 20 percent claim no faith.

Only slightly more than half of those claiming to be Christians attend church consistently. The Barna chart below shows that almost half of America’s proclaimed Christians practice their faith in ways that don’t involve church. In this graphic, “churched” are those who have attended church frequently in the past six months. “Unchurched” are those who have not attended church at all in the past six months.

I am somewhat encouraged that 73% of Americans profess to be Christians. However, I suspect that many of those see Christianity as characteristic of being American or being associated with a church rather than having a committed relationship with Christ–the true definition of Christianity. On the other hand, I am deeply concerned that almost half of those identifying as Christian hardly ever attend church. I believe this trend is dangerous for America.

Churches should not be considered institutions like civic clubs, labor unions, or affinity groups that are losing popularity and not purposeful in our lives anymore. Churches are absolutely essential to living out our lives as followers of Christ. Jesus attended and even spoke in the synagogues setting an example for us. After his resurrection, He spoke of establishing His church on the faith of His followers. His apostles, including Paul, preached and ministered in the church. Thousands of the earliest Christians gathered each Sunday in the churches throughout the Mediterranean nations. God’s strategy for our worship, spreading the gospel, and ministering to others is centered on the church. We are fooling ourselves if we believe we can please God and serve Him by trying to follow His teaching and act on it outside the fellowship of other believers. We are created to worship with others, pray with others, minister to others and be ministered to by others, study the Bible with others, and subject ourselves to the accountability of others. This is why God established the church through Jesus Christ. We cannot expect God’s fullest blessing on this nation if we do not honor His direction to be a part of His church.

Churches are not perfect, because the people in churches are not perfect. But, just as we stay committed to an imperfect family, we should stay committed to an imperfect church family. The church is not established by God to fulfill all of our needs. It is established as God’s plan for us to serve the needs of others with fellow believers.

If you are one of the unchurched, or only an Easter-Christmas attender, I strongly urge you to begin consistent church participation. It will change your life for the better, enhance your family’s life, and contribute to the healing of America.

A Message for Us from the Reagan and Nixon Libraries

 

Linda and I just returned from impressive and inspiring visits to both the Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon presidential libraries. The trip was a treasured birthday gift from my sons. I recommend these visits for every patriot. The beautiful memorials are in suburbs of Los Angeles–Simi Valley and Yorba Linda respectively. The journey through periods of history that I personally witnessed real-time brought on many stirring memories and emotions.

I believe Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of my lifetime (I’m 70). He came into office when America was in crisis. Inflation was at a record high, Iran had held 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. An attempt to rescue them had been a catastrophe. These and other burdens had sapped America’s energy and tarnished our reputation globally, especially with the Soviet Union. President Reagan’s steel resolve and bold declarations turned our country around in short order. On the day of his inauguration, Iran released the hostages, and very soon the economy was booming again. Later, his hard-line leadership internationally brought down the Soviet Union juggernaut ending the cold war. Nicknamed the “Great Communicator,” he motivated Americans to become positive-thinking patriots. He showed the world what national and international leadership should look like.

I also believe Richard Nixon was one of the greatest presidents of all time. Regrettably, his egregious mistake in Watergate and subsequent resignation overshadows his leadership and accomplishments. President Nixon, like Reagan, began his presidency at a low point for America. Vietnam was dragging our nation down financially, politically, and socially. Communism was a deadly threat to the world with the cold war gaining momentum. There were 591 American prisoners of war  being tortured in North Vietnam and hundreds more unaccounted for. The Nixon White House ultimately negotiated the release of all known prisoners and ended America’s involvement in the war that had taken over 58,000 American lives. President Nixon expanded space exploration exponentially, presided over the first moon landing, and led the peak years of space technology. He was also a great communicator and instilled patriotism across the land.

While assimilating the overwhelming stories of these two presidents in my mind and heart, I couldn’t help but wonder what President Trump’s legacy will be, and what his library will portray. He, too, assumed the presidency at a very low point for America. Although he is a positive motivator with abundant plans for turning our county around, few would view him as a statesman who can draw the confidence of the masses. I like most of his policies and welcome his shift toward conservatism. He has built an unprecedented cohort of wise counsel. But, a Reagan or a Nixon he is not.

My hope and prayer is that the Trump presidency will be remembered and memorialized as one that took an America in severe decline morally and economically and turned it around once again. If he is successful, it will likely be because of his expertly picked cabinet, his party’s majority in the House and Senate, and possibly a more conservative Supreme Court.

The Trump library will hopefully showcase a successful and popular presidency as a result of a highly capable staff and favorable Congress. It’s portrayal of the president himself, unlike that of Reagan and Nixon, will be rather bizarre. What do you think?

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