Monday, April 10, 2006
On Sunday, Bree and I finally got around to taking a short trip to Independence, MO, to learn more about their favorite son, Harry Truman.
First, we took the tour of his beautiful home. It's a nice, well-preserved place. Harry's hat and coat still hang by the door, the last place he put them before he died. His wife, Bess, never felt the need to move them. The kitchen calender remains on the month of October, 1982, when Bess died. The public can't yet tour the second floor because the Trumans only child, Margaret, is still alive. Bess's will specifically stated that the second floor of the house should remain a private residence for Margaret while she's alive, in case she wants to come back and visit. Margaret, 82, currently lives in New York and she hasn't been back to the area in twelve years. I thought that was some interesting trivia put forth by our guide.
Next, we walked about a mile down the street to the Truman Library. The house definitely impressed me, but the library was the highlight of the trip for my history-addicted self. The place contains a wealth of knowledge and artifacts from the Truman years in office. The Recognition of Israel section had me in awe. Being able to stand within inches of the original document, signed by Truman, recognizing the state of Israel really got me. And next to it was the beautiful Torah inside a silver and copper ark given to Truman by Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, that same May of 1948. Some other excellent exhibits included the decision to drop the bomb, the reconstruction of Europe and the origins of the cold war. Whether you agree or disagree with Truman's actions, you certainly must recognize the fact the he faced some of the toughest challenges of any president in the 20th century. I certainly admire him for that. Having the guts to drop the bomb, be the first leader to recognize Israel and stand up to Stalin in the beginning of the arms race certainly proved his main point--"The buck stops here." Not bad for a guy who, at age 33, had deemed his life a complete failure.
So, if you're ever in the Kansas City area, I urge you to check out the Truman Library. I don't think you'll be disappointed.