Remembering Harry Truman, a Man of Truth
Byline: Sarah Long
Harry Truman was vice president to Franklin Roosevelt, one of the most popular presidents in American history. Truman was greatly overshadowed by the charisma and strong feelings that Roosevelt inspired in others.
Thrust into the presidency upon Roosevelt's death, Truman became the chief of our armed forces while we were still at war with Japan. Truman did not falter. Four months after taking the oath of office, Truman approved the use of the atomic bomb in Japan. Eight days later Japan surrendered to end World War II.
After the war, Truman again demonstrated his willingness to act by signing a bill creating the Marshall Plan, which provided aid to rebuild Europe's economy. These and other actions prompted constituents to say, "Give 'em hell, Harry." Commenting on this later, Truman wrote, "I have never deliberately given anybody hell. I just tell the truth on the opposition - and they think it's hell."
Several months ago I had the opportunity to visit the Truman Presidential Library in his hometown, Independence, Mo. It was a wonderful experience. Like most presidential libraries, it's part archive and part museum. I really enjoyed the Truman library because there were many exhibits that showed what was happening during the Truman years, the period of my early childhood. There were Life magazine covers and period advertisements with Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme on the soundtrack. But most of all, I gained a sense of Truman's legacy, from his aphorisms such as "the buck stops here" to his visionary idea that the end of a war should include a program that builds peace for the defeated. Otherwise, the war will just erupt again another day. …