October 13, 2021
I stopped by my brother’s house in Independence on my way home from Wichita (yes, it is over 300 miles out of my way). That gave me the opportunity to see his wife and two of their grandkids I had not seen in a while. Dan is in the process of having a new house built and is currently living out of an apartment at his shop. He had taken the liberty of reserving a hotel room in a quaint inner-city hotel that happens to be next door to the Truman House. When I went to visit the house the next day, I found that it was closed due to covid restrictions. Independence is also the site of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. This site is also closed. So much for being a tourist in Independence.
When I looked online, I found that Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd President of the US from 1945 to 1953. He had previously served as the 34th Vice President from January to April 1945 under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and as a US Senator from Missouri from 1935 to January 1945. Truman assumed the presidency after Roosevelt’s death and implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe and established both the Truman Doctrine and NATO to contain the expansion of communism. He proposed numerous liberal domestic reforms, but few were enacted by the Conservative Coalition dominating Congress. While eligible for reelection in 1952, corruption in his administration became a central issue in the 1952 presidential campaign and Truman decided not to run. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower attacked Truman’s record and easily won the presidential election. Truman retired, founded his presidential library, and published his memoirs.
I caught I-49 south of Kansas City and took the road all the way into northern Arkansas. Along the way I passed two more Truman sites. These were the Truman Birthplace and the Truman Farm (both closed). The Truman birthplace cited Harry S. Truman as the only Missourian ever elected US President, being born here on May 8, 1884. The Truman family stayed in the six-room home until he was almost one year old. The Truman Farm is in Grandview, Missouri. The farm property was developed in the 1860’s by Truman’s grandfather, Solomon Young. Truman left his job as a banker and moved to the farm in 1906 and lived there until 1917. Enlisting at the age of 33, Truman served as a Captain in the 129th Field Artillery during World War I. He returned to live in Kansas City for a short while and then moved to Independence with his bride, Bess Wallace. Truman credits his leadership experience during the war as the foundation of his political career. I wonder why his other residences did not make the cut.
Thoughts: I often recall the saying my grandfather (an others) used during the Democratic years of the 1960’s. “I like Ike, Heck, I even liked Harry.” This was a fond reference to the Republican years of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Truman did take America from its traditional isolationism into an age of international involvement. Like most memories, the saying fails to recall the hydrogen bombs dropped on Japan, the scandal that drove Truman from the Whitehouse, and the political cleansing of McCarthyism during the 1950’s, not to mention the stalemate wars of Korea or Vietnam (lost in 1974). Despite his power, Truman said, “I hope to be remembered as the people’s President.” While history is generally written by the victors, revisionist history is generally written by the detractors. It will be interesting twenty years from now and recount the turbulence of 2020-21 (racial unrest, pandemic, insurrection, anti-vaccination). Hopefully, which is the fake news will be determined by then. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.