I couldn’t help but think of Dad again and again as we wandered the grounds and home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farm Friday in Gettysburg, Pa.
Both grew up in small Midwestern towns, then saw the world serving in the U.S. military. Both liked TV Westerns. Both avoided political partisanship (well, until Ike joined the Republicans and ran for president). Both enjoyed painting.
Luke Buttry served in the Army Air Corps under Ike’s command in England during World War II. After going to college on the GI Bill and then graduating seminary, Dad served as an Air Force chaplain when Ike was commander-in-chief.
As a chaplain and later as a civilian minister, Dad was careful not to express political opinions or affiliations. He believed that ministers should preach the Gospel and minister to the needs of their people. Political affiliation would alienate people of whichever party he didn’t support, so Dad avoided taking sides. He was adept at making his sermons timely by addressing current issues without showing a consistent bias.
Ike was a political independent as a general, wooed by both parties as a presidential candidate following World War II. Even when he became a Republican to run for president, he was easily the least partisan president of my lifetime.