Blog 1514 – 11.10.2019
Harry Truman was President when I was born. I often hear, “Man, you do not look that old.” Politicians everywhere, you know the old joke, “You know how you can tell if a politician or salesman is lying, don’t you? His lips are moving.” After rising to the rank of Army Captain in World War One, Harry S. Truman returned to his home state of Missouri to run a men’s clothing store. He was not a successful businessman, but then neither was Abraham Lincoln. Not until he fell in with one of the states biggest political bosses did Harry find his niche in life, politics. It is a tricky and sticky business stream and many a man of conscience has drowned in its depths but Harry had a gift of making the system work for others and he did good for the people of Missouri and this country rising to the high office of Vice President and becoming unelected President of the United States of America’s upon the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he died in office near the end of World War Two.
One of Harry S. Truman’s first official acts as President was to make the decision to drop two atomic bombs on civilian populated cities in Japan to speed the end the war, or so we are told. He had no knowledge of the atomic bombs before FDR died. And I am not sure if he knew before hand that the Russians were about to invade mainland Japan. We certainly did not want them occupying Japan as they already did half of Germany and all of Eastern Europe. Plus the Manhattan Project (developing the atomic bomb) had cost in today’s dollars about twenty-three billion and we had two and the military wanted to see what they would do. I have long thought that we have a lot of nerve saying other sovereign nations have no right to pursue nuclear weapons when we are the only country to ever use them on people, no moral high ground there. I think the new President was duped into making that terrible and mostly unnecessary decision. We had done far more damage fire bombing Tokyo and vital military targets in Japan and they were already trying desperately to surrender before those two horrific bombs were dropped. It is really a “cover our ass” argument to say the A-Bombs ended the war, they only served to prove true what Civil War General Sherman’s said, “War is hell.”
Harry S. Truman was in one way like our current President, Donald J. Trump. He was not afraid to speak his mind in the common vernacular. His quotes in the newspapers often had words typed with mixed up letters to show that they were unprintable according to the standards of the day. A famous line of that day was, “Give ‘em hell, Harry.” And he did with a scattering of “damns” and other cuss words to boot. The biggest difference between President Harry S. Truman and President Donald J. Trump, besides the different parties they headed, was that Harry Truman believed in first and foremost fulfilling the oath of his office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, he believed in the “the greater good”, and in not profiting from his office.
He surprised many by being elected to a term of office after serving out FDR’s last term and when his elected term was over he and Mrs. Truman had to pay out of their own pocket for train tickets back to Missouri. They received no retirement from the government. Years later President Kennedy lobbied to get a small pension for former President Truman. He never sought it himself. As the above quote says he did not think profiting from government service was his due. How times and people’s ideas have changed. Many think “winning” and “getting rich” are the only things that matter and that public service and “the greater good” are outmoded ideas from a bye-gone era. They are not, nor should they be, give ‘em hell, Harry.
Your friend and fellow traveler,