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Ike Plugs Football

Dec. 31, 1963 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower (pictured in 1912), the West Point fullback who became President, put in a plug for football today as a game that develops brains as well as brawn. The former Chief Executive, who is grand marshal for tomorrow’s Rose Parade, told an overflow crowd of 3,000 at the annual Kiwanis kickoff luncheon at Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium: “Football is one game that is not going to lose its attraction. It is a contest that pits not only brawn, but brain, skill, discipline, and morale. In the Rose Bowl, I will come to see young America training for greater problems. When I see these young people developing, I can have greater confidence in the future of our country.” Gen. Eisenhower, whose promising football career at the Point was ended after two seasons because of a leg injury, remarked that he had been required to relieve several commanders on the battlefield in World War II because they lacked leadership qualities. “But,” he added, “never did I have to relieve an officer who was an outstanding athlete.” General Eisenhower also declared that the number 34 had particular significance for both him and the luncheon. “This is the 34th annual kickoff luncheon,” he said. “I was raised in the 34th state — Kansas — and was the 34th President.” General Eisenhower received a standing ovation at the luncheon and was greeted by Montana Gov. Tim Babcock and Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) But the most cordial greeting of all came outside from a Pasadena housewife, Mrs. Ardith Liercke, 34, who told the general, “You have been my hero since I was 12 years old.” General Eisenhower hugged her and said, “Bless your heart.” Mrs. Liercke, mother of four, admitted afterward she did not expect an embrace but said, “I’ve been madly in love with him all my life.”


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