Of ‘Ike girls’ and blackballed quarterbacks

1955. Seeking a second term, Republican incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower and his “I Like Ike” campaign were headed to Lexington. Several high-school girls were asked to be “Ike Girls” and parade from Main Street to Memorial Coliseum, wearing red, white and blue dresses that matched the “I Like Ike” buttons we would distribute to the crowd.

Gen. Eisenhower was one of the American heroes whose service to the country had been made real through the new medium of television. The invitation to be an “Ike Girl” seemed an invitation to a bit part in that history.

My father was the head football coach at the University of Kentucky — a lifelong Democrat employed in a very public position by a university with a Democratic administration under a Democratic governor. I assumed a family talk was in order about whether the coach’s daughter could take a public stand for the opposition party.

That was not my Dad’s agenda. What did I think about each presidential candidate? Why was it important to me to be an “Ike girl?” What did I hope to accomplish? Were there any downsides to a “yes” answer?

My words are long forgotten, my father’s remain. He was proud of me for caring enough to stand up for what I believed, whether my position agreed with his or not, whatever the subject. He talked about the cost and the promise of speaking out; he wanted me to be aware that costs could be steep, promises not guaranteed.

Article source: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article166592432.html

This entry was posted in Peace in the world and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.