President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Original 1958 Christmas and New Year’s Message to Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

Sent to the national commander of the American Legion, as representative of the nation’s veterans, and never before offered for sale.

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In the midst of the Cold War, the former Supreme Allied Commander in World War II desires that “a just and lasting peace may someday be achieved on this earth,” adding “You who have contributed deeds as well as words to the realization of this hope are aware of the magnitude of...

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President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Original 1958 Christmas and New Year’s Message to Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

Sent to the national commander of the American Legion, as representative of the nation’s veterans, and never before offered for sale.

In the midst of the Cold War, the former Supreme Allied Commander in World War II desires that “a just and lasting peace may someday be achieved on this earth,” adding “You who have contributed deeds as well as words to the realization of this hope are aware of the magnitude of the task.”

President Calvin Coolidge issued the first official presidential Christmas message to the American people in 1927. Written on White House stationary, it was a response to requests for the President to send a holiday greeting. Presidents after him followed suit, with some presidents additionally issuing a few targeted messages to certain segments of the American population. For example, Herbert Hoover and and Franklin Roosevelt sent such messages specifically to disabled veterans. Truman issued ones to all veterans, as did Eisenhower.

This is Eisenhower’s 1958 message to U.S. veterans, sent to the national commander of the American Legion as representative of the nation’s veterans (of which Ike himself was one). It was written during the Cold War, at a time when tensions were high and the Soviet Union’s triumphs in space had not yet been equaled by the United States. Many of the veterans had served under Eisenhower, so he had a personal connection to them.

Typed message signed, on White House engraved letterhead, Washington, Christmas, 1958, “TO THE MEN AND WOMEN VETERANS OF OUR ARMED FORCES”, sent to the national commander of the American Legion as representative of the nation’s veterans (of which Ike himself was one), conveying his hope for peace and the aid of America’s veterans in achieving it.

“Much of the glad anticipation of the Christmas season is born of the hope that, with God’s help, a just and lasting peace may someday be achieved on this earth. You who have contributed deeds as well as words to the realization of this hope are aware of the magnitude of the task. Your work as active citizens offers continuing proof of your determination to further the building of a peaceful society for yourselves, for your children, and for your neighbors around the world. In this spirit, Mrs. Eisenhower and I join in sending you our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

In addition to this special message to veterans, Eisenhower gave a Christmas greeting to the nation at large. It was notable for being the first radio broadcast from space, and was transmitted to earth on December 19, 1958, via short wave frequency.

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