How the Eisenhower Bust Came to Ike
An article from the May 17, 1963, issue of "The Eagle's Eye" (Eisenhower's student newspaper), relates the story of how the Eisenhower bust came to Ike. The Italian sculptor, Valerio Valentini, sent a letter addressed to the principal. Using the style of Italian writing (which may seem flowery to us), Valentini referred to Mr. Ryan (principal) as "Illustrissimo Signor Direttore," or illustrious director.
As was printed in the newspaper: "For the benefit of the student body it was decided to publish parts of the letter from Valentini. In that the letter was written in Italian and was extremely difficult to translate exactly, it is impossible to print the total correspondence."
Following is the excerpt as it was printed in "The Eagle's Eye."
Most Esteemed Director of E.H.S.
I have read in the paper that in your city Eisenhower has dedicated a great school named after him. I have always admired this famous general. So when he was named President I modeled this worthy sculpture in bronze with the intent of bestowing it as a gift of admiration and modest gratitude for all the generous help that he had given my people in the hour of need. I could not accomplish my intentions. The Secretary of the White House, because of rigorous protocol, wrote to me that the president could not accept gifts unless from close relatives."
The sculptor went on to say that he decided to give the statue to E.H.S. and requested that it be placed where everyone could admire it.
Later that same year, the November 22, 1963, issue of "Eagle's Eye" announced the arrival of the bust from Italy. The article contained more information about Valentini, and his reasons for creating the bust and how it ended up at Eisenhower.
Following is the article from the November, 22, 1963, newspaper:
The bronze, twenty-inch high statue of General Eisenhower in uniform arrived at school last week, terminating its long journey from Italy.
Its creator, Valerio Valentini, a young Italian sculptor who admired General Eisenhower during his war days in Europe, made up his mind that when he became more experienced in the art, he would sculpt a bust of Eisenhower and present it as a token of friendship.
When the work was completed in 1953, the General had become President of the United States. Valentini discovered that law prohibits U.S. presidents from accepting gifts from foreign countries. So the bust stayed in Italy.
The publicity surrounding General Eisenhower's visit to EHS last spring resulted in a letter from Valentini stating that he would be happy to donate the bust as a gift. Consequently, the Student council took over and paid for its shipment from Italy to Los Angeles, and the ensuing C.O.D. cost from Los Angeles to Rialto.
For many years, the bust resided in the Eisenhower library. A legend surrounds the bust, known as The Eisenhower Myth - rub his nose for good luck before a test!!
The Eisenhower bust is currently located in the main office trophy case.