Thursday is a state holiday in honor of Harry S. Truman, whose birthday is May 8. He was born in 1884, 130 years ago. He died in 1972. He has not been forgotten by Missourians.
There are a number of places in the state that bear his name. One of the most notable is Truman University. The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is in Independence. It is a place all Missourians should visit. It offers a lesson in history about the state, the United States and parts of the world.
Truman always was plainspoken, honest in his private and public lives, and as tough as they come. He made more major decisions as president than many of our presidents.
He was admired by countless people, even members of the Republican Party. He never had much money even after his nearly eight years in the White House. He once said he didn’t cash in on his service as president by serving on corporate boards. He said the presidency “should not be sold.”
Federal officeholders and Washington, D.C., are much different today than in Truman’s days. That is, cashing in on being in president, serving in Congress and holding high federal offices, by being a lobbyist, serving on high-paying corporate boards, delivering speeches for pay, and using federal service as a path to riches which is much more rampant today.
There is so much money afloat in D.C. that some writers and others call it the money capital of the nation. It also is the home of media celebrities of the big buck class.
Politics and government today, it’s all about money.
Truman entered the White House with little or no money to speak of, and he left the same way.
One story that has made the rounds for years is that Truman when the Trumans left the White House they put their belongings in the car and drove home. Not true. He took the train home to Independence. Daughter Margaret in her book about her Dad related how Harry and wife Bess were greeted by 5,000 people at Union Station where he boarded the presidential car for the trip home.
Truman thanked the crowd: “May I say to you that I appreciate this more than any meeting I have ever attended as president or vice president or senator. This is the greatest demonstration that any man could have, because I’m just Mr. Truman, private citizen now.”
He was a man of the people, and we must add, for the people!