What do you know about Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States?
Frankly, before our visit to Truman’s home and presidential library in the suburbs of Kansas City, I knew next to nothing except for the fact that Truman was the president with the plaque on his desk that said, “the buck stops here”.
Truman’s home in Independence, MO is located just down the road from his presidential library and final resting place. Visiting both really gives you a good picture of who Harry Truman was as a person and of impact that his presidency had on US and world history.
Despite the fact that many people know almost nothing about Harry Truman, his presidency was filled with decisions that changed the history of the world in a huge way.
President Truman made a drastic change in the direction of world history by making the decision to use atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II and to send American troops to Korea during the Korean war. His guidance helped form NATO and aided post war recovery by means of the Marshall plan.
President Truman was truly a man ahead of his time. Many visions that he had during his presidency seemed crazy at the time and were dismissed, only to be adopted and implemented by later presidents. Medicare was just one of those visions, which was signed into law with credit to Truman by Lyndon Johnson in 1965.
On a more personal level, our visit gave me a definite sense of connection with Truman. Even though his duties as a politician often kept him away from his home and his wife and family in Missouri, he always left his heart there and returned as often as he could.
Truman was a man who reveled in simplicity. He never forgot where he came from, and longed for nothing more than to return someday to those simple roots. At the end of his presidency, he returned to Independence for the remainder of his days.
“I tried never to forget
who I was and where I’d
come from and where I
was going back to.”
Harry S. Truman
Another remarkable facet of Truman’s life was his longtime, storybook marriage to his wife Bess.
Truman’s courtship of his wife Bess started when he returned a cake plate to her home across the street from cousin’s house in Independence. From that point on, it was a match that was made to be. He frequently sent touching love letters to her over the years, many of which are on display in Independence. They were married for 53 years, until Harry’s death in 1972.
What started out as an activity to fill time one afternoon while visiting Kansas City turned into a real learning experience. Check out the Truman Library next time you are in the Kansas city area!