The Eisenhower Memorial got some Hollywood star power Monday as Oscar winner Tom Hanks signed up to boost fundraising for the stalled project.
“We are delighted to welcome Tom Hanks to our Advisory Committee,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, Chairman of the the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission in a statement.
“A committed proponent of The Greatest Generation, Mr. Hanks served as the National Spokesman for the National World War II (memorial) fundraising campaign. We look forward to his dynamic contributions to the effort to honor Ike,” said Roberts of the drive to build a memorial honoring Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II and 34th president of the United States.
Hanks worked closely with former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, in raising funds for the National World War II Memorial which opened on the National Mall in 2004. Dole was named the Finance Chairman of the Campaign for the Eisenhower Memorial last week.
Hanks has been involved in acting, producing, directing and writing numerous films with a World War II theme, including, “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Pacific,” and “Band of Brothers.”
Hanks said in a statement: “I am very happy to join Senator Bob Dole and General P.X. Kelley, distinguished Americans with whom I worked on the World War II memorial.” Kelley is co-chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission Advisory Committee.
“My role in that effort was meant to honor the sacrifices of Ike’s troops and all those who served in that global conflict,” said Hanks. “I am pleased to join the effort to remember their leader who went on to become one of our most prescient and wise of presidents.”
As for Dole, the 92-year old World War II vet said, “We couldn’t be more excited by the addition of Tom Hanks to our team dedicated to building the National Eisenhower Memorial. His dedication to The Greatest Generation is long-standing and heartfelt, and his films have created a strong level of awareness to the horrors of war.”
Dole reiterated his concern that the delayed memorial be built before the WWII veterans all pass away. “Now, in their final years, they want to see their leader’s memorial built,” he said.
Congress has eliminated federal construction funding for the memorial for the last two years as lawmakers objected to the controversial design by famed architect Frank Gehry. The Eisenhower family also objects to the design and representatives have said members will not support private fundraising for the Gehry-drawn memorial.