Granddaughter of 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized for nonprofit’s efforts since 1956 of peaceful unification in Korea.
KANSAS CITY, MO— (January 18, 2018) —
Nearly 66 years after her grandfather made a historic visit to Korea in an effort to find a solution to ending the Korean War, Mary Jean Eisenhower received a Korean Peace Medal from the Korean Informational Association. Grace Kim, Ph.D., Chairwoman of People to People International Korea National Headquarters and member of People to People International Board of Directors, also received a medal. The two women were honored during a ceremony at the 45th
Annual Awards Banquet and International Friendship Night ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, on December 8th
Made from melted bullets and rusted pieces of the barbed-wire fence that surrounded the Korean Demilitarized Zone during the war, the medal was originally designed by the Korean Informational Association for the 60th
Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice ceremony, held at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. on July 27, 2013. In the spirit of recognizing the many sacrifices made for peace and the Korean people, Korean War Veterans were presented with the official Korean Peace Medal during the commemoration.
A lifelong champion for peace, President Eisenhower believed that people wanted a more peaceful and unified world. It was this overarching concept that inspired him to launch the People to People International (PTPI) initiative on September. 11, 1956, under the U.S. Information Agency.
South Korea was the first foreign PTPI chapter and was founded in 1965, after then-Governor of Gangwon Province Kyung Pak met with retired U.S. Army Colonel I.F. Saunders, a Director of PTPI Western Council. During the meeting, PTPI Director Saunders introduced to Governor Pak the organization’s mission and purpose. Today the chapter has more than 1,000 members comprised of business owners, entrepreneurs, college professors and other South Korean citizens.
Mary Jean Eisenhower embraces her grandfather’s vision and passion to deepen the connection of citizens across the world through PTPI’s work. She regards the timeliness of receiving the Korean Peace Medal, during a tumultuous period in relations between the U.S. and North Korea, “as an important message that PTPI’s efforts continue to underscore the involvement of its members to foster and encourage people across the world to talk to one another. It’s truly how we make progress in this world, not only today, but during my grandfather’s time in history, when the Korean armistice was enacted.
“Each time I lead a delegation, whether it’s to South Korea or another country, I’m reminded of the power of the human spirit and the yearning for peace,” she says. “I am honored and grateful for the gesture of friendship made in peace that this medal represents.”
“There are very few non-veterans that have received this great honor,” says Teresa Loar, Chairwoman of People to People International Board of Directors and Kansas City Councilwoman. “Mary Jean Eisenhower continues to make world peace the center focus of her life.”
Since its inception in 1956, PTPI has built a peaceful presence in more than 160 countries and fosters President Eisenhower’s belief that “peaceful relations between nations require understanding and mutual respect between individuals.” Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have been positively impacted by the organization’s programs. PTPI is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, at Crown Center. For more information about PTPI, visit www.ptpi.org
About Mary Jean Eisenhower
Mary Jean Eisenhower was born in Washington, D.C. during her grandfather, Dwight D. Eisenhower's, first term in office as President of the United States. She was christened in the Blue Room of the White House and grew up in nearby Gettysburg, PA, in a home with property abutting the Eisenhower Farm, where President Eisenhower eventually retired. She attended several schools in Pennsylvania until her father, John, was named as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium. She lived in Brussels with her family from shortly after her grandfather's death in 1969 through 1972.
Mary Jean is President and Chief Executive Officer of People to People International, which was founded September 11, 1956 by her grandfather, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mary says that she joined PTPI hoping to carry on her grandfather's dream as her own. In 1961, President Eisenhower brought PTPI to the private sector, with the financial backing of his friend Joyce Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards.
In 1999, Mary Jean established the PTPI Friendship Fund following an inspirational visit to an orphanage in Morocco. The fund is designed as a way for people to help the friends and facilities they visit throughout the world and to help the PTPI Chapter network assist each other in humanitarian and educational endeavors. To date, the fund has provided assistance to causes such as the Global Humanitarian Eradication of Landmines; Children's Mercy Hospital in London, England; earthquake relief in India; disaster relief to victims of September 11, 2001 and their families; support of schools for the underprivileged in China and Sri Lanka; a home for leukemia victims and their families in Cuba; Operation Iraqi Children; New Horizons (a library project in Vietnam); The Survivors of Rwanda; Japan Tsunami Relief, Haiti, and Friends of Egypt, among others.
Following September 11, 2001, Mary Jean’s focus intensified toward getting young people from around the world together to learn about each other and conflict management. Her vision resulted in "Peace Camp 2003: An Evolution of Thought and Action" and "The Global Peace Initiative." Both efforts have brought people from diverse areas, more than 30 nationalities, together in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, to discuss issues, how each are affected and reach a better understanding of their unique and individual cultures. The program remains active today. In total, Mary Jean has visited or established programing in over 74 countries, many multiple times.
Highlighted awards Mary Jean has received are: The Knight of Peace Award from the International University in Assisi, Italy; the Medal of Honor from Slovak Republic; The Consular Corps Award of Excellence; The Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service; Friendship Ambassador from The Peoples' Republic of China, Friend of Foreign Service Award, Taiwan, among others. Eisenhower has received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Schiller International University, Park University and William Jewel College; and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from York College. She has served as a Fellow at Stanford University and The Churchill Foundation at Westminster College.