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