Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the son of pacifist Mennonite parents, but he chose to study war as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was spotted as a promising officer and sent to Command and General Staff School, the military equivalent of graduate school, where he graduated first in his class of 275. Though he had never seen combat, Eisenhower was chosen to lead American forces in North Africa and Italy during World War II, and then to plan and command the pivotal invasion of Normandy in 1944. He remained as Army Chief of Staff after the war, served two years as the president of Columbia University, and two more as commander of NATO troops in Europe.
Elected president in 1952, Ike provided a steady hand during a tense time in US foreign policy. He remained immensely popular during and after his two terms in office. Still, historians at first judged him as a weak president, but with time his stature has grown and he is now frequently (but not always) rated among our best presidents.