The White House Historical Association’s 2019 Official White House Christmas Ornament honors Dwight D. Eisenhower, thirty-fourth president of the United States. His administration spanned the years 1953 to 1961, between President Harry S. Truman and President John F. Kennedy. Throughout his notable army career and presidency, Eisenhower was an innovator, a trait to which the helicopter represented in the ornament pays tribute. The “whirlybird” saw its first official use during World War II in 1942. Although security personnel feared for the president’s safety, Eisenhower, who loved flying, prevailed and on July 12, 1957, became the first president to fly in a helicopter while in office. The helicopter became a feature of White House life, used often by the president to commute short distances, demonstrating to the public and indeed the world that it was safe. Privately, the U.S. Secret Service saw it as a means of quick escape from the White House in case of a nuclear attack.
*White House ornaments are NOT eligible for Oval Namedrop.