September 19, 2013 – Truman Library

The Truman Presidential Museum and Library was our destination this morning.

 During our self-guided tour we experienced Truman’s public and private lives … the challenges he faced  before, during and after his presidency … his popular and controversial decisions and  programs … through hundreds of exhibits, photos, radio and television clips, souvenirs/gifts, letters and other documents

Less than nine months after being nominated as FDR’s Vice running mate in the summer of 1944,

Harry S. Truman inherited two wars and the world’s most demanding job.

It was nearly two weeks later that he was fully briefed on the Manhattan Project, the development of the Atomic Bomb … information which, less than three months later, would lead to one of the most controversial decision ever made by any US President … dropping the Atomic bombs on Japan  The only written document communicating that decision was a cryptic, hand written note to Henry Stimson, Truman’s Secretary of War while attending the Potsdam Conference Soviet Premier Stalin and British Prime Ministers Churchill and Attlee in late July, 1945.

On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the first of two Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima

followed by  a second A-bomb which leveled Nagasaki three days later.

The museum provides a rich and detailed history of the farm boy from the Midwest who’s first job at the age of 16

was as a soda jerk at Clinton’s Soda Fountain

in his home town of Independence, Missouri

In 1895, John and Martha Truman purchased this house, originally built circa-1886

who ultimately made that decision. 

From then until now, people have debated the wisdom of using such terrible weapons against our then enemy.   While trying to apply prevailing 21st century morés and attitudes to Truman’s decision during a brutal war may be intellectually satisfying, it is also unfair, it is interesting to read the opinions of many of Truman’s 1945 contemporaries, including the follow.

Yet, it did result in the unconditional surrender of Japan just days later, potentially saving more than 1,000,000 American military casualties had the Japanese homeland had to be invaded.

Yet, in the turbulent years which followed, as American troops flooded home and back into civilian society and the Soviets began to drop what Churchill first described as an “Iron Curtain” over Easter Europe, Truman never shied from accepting the responsibilities of whatever jobs or positions he held nor the accountability for the decisions he made.

Despite ending two wars within the first four months of his presidency, President Truman continued to be challenged by both domestic and international  events and challenges.

Nationwide protests and strikes over a lack of consumer goods and price inflation

The Berlin Airlift

The Marshall Plan

The beginning of the Cold War – School “Duck and Cover” protection from the “Bomb”, which Debbie and I recall from our Elementary School days.

The pistols used by Puerto Rican pro-independence activists Oscar Callazo and Grisellio Torresola in an attempted assassination attempt on President Truman on November 1, 1950 in front of Blair House

Cameras used by the press during Truman’s presidency

President Truman turning their cameras on the press corps

A letter from the angry and distraught father of a Korean War casualty which was sent to President Truman, together with his son’s Purple Hear; “As you have been directly responsible for the loss of our son’s life in Korea, you might just as well keep this emblem on display in your trophy room, as a memory of the your historic deeds. Our major regret was that your daughter was not there to receive the same treatment as our son received in Korea.”

A 21’ 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan used as one of the presidential limousines

“The shirt off my back” sent to President Truman by an out-of-work citizen who blamed the president’s policies for his plight

An American flag made by Luther Bass, a serviceman held captive in Tokyo during World War II and made from parachutes carrying food and clothing dropped to his POW camp from a U.S. B-29 on August 26, 1945

This Athenian helmet was presented to President Truman in 1967 by the Greek Ambassador on the 20th Anniversary of the Truman Doctrine. It had been worn by a citizen solder killed sometime between 499-479 BCE during the Persian Wars

Truman’s Whistle-stop campaign of 1948

Needs no explanation

An offer to help the president

The Oval Office during Harry S Truman’s presidency

The globe in the Oval Office was a gift from General Dwight David Eisenhower

Farewell Address

An interior courtyard is graced by an eternal flame for peace which burns 24/7/365

which is not far from the graves of Bess and Harry Truman

Truman’s epitaph

as well as their daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel, and her husband, Clifton.

Our next stop was the Vaile Mansion, built in 1881 at a cost of $150,000 by Col. Harvey and Sophia Vaile,

One of the wealthiest men of his day, he was a Lawyer, Journalist, and U.S. Mail Contractor

 it stands as one of our nation’s premiere example of Second Empire Victorian architecture.

The 31 room mansion includes 9 marble fireplaces, spectacular painted ceilings, flushing toilets, a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, and a 48,000 gallon wine cellar, gas and water works. White pine made to look like Mahogany wood was used in the house & the stables.  He had a greenhouse, fountains, a lake (now filled-in) and arbors with 4 full time gardeners.

Spectacular roof lines

Exterior fountain

Front doors

Interior foyer door

Drawing Room

Music Room

with an 1871 Lindwood Grand Piano made of rosewood

Music room ceiling

Dining room


Ladies parlor

Family’s Sitting Room

“Young Lady in Bathing Suit” alabaster statue allegedly from the 1903 World’s Fair. The lady who donated this statue to the Vaile Mansion would cover it with a blanket when she entertained her Sunday School classes because she thought it was “a bit naughty”

One of two second story bathrooms with copper bath tubs and indoor plumbing

The painting of “Innocence” is located directly over the bed in the master bedroom was certainly risqué for its era and likely prevented Mrs. Vaile from entertaining polite society … as there were rumors that the painting was of a young woman nude from the waist up … and that lady was Mrs. Vaile

While starting back toward our campground, we passed yet another statue in front of the county courthouse of Independence’s most famous son,

a number of Queen Anne styled homes dating back to the latter part of the 19th century,

a building wall mural commemorating “Truman’s 1948 Loss to Dewey”,

as well as the World Headquarters Temple of the Community of Christ Church.

The temple was designed evokes the spiral shell of the Nautilus with a stainless steel spire that rises 300 feet

 This evening, we had dinner with our nephew, Todd Louis and his wife, Stephanie and Mom, JoEllen.

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