Harry S. Truman passed away 45 years ago today. The former president was 88 years old.
The following week, on January 3 and 4, 1973, 47 Congressmen and 70 Senators offered memorial tributes eulogizing the 33rd President of the United States on the floors of House of Representatives and the Senate, including Senators Robert Dole, Barry Goldwater, Edward Kennedy, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Stuart Symington, Adlai Stevenson and Strom Thurmond. Republicans and Democrats alike joined together to praise Truman, his decisiveness, his humility and, above all, his service to the American people.
But perhaps our favorite tribute to President Truman came from his hometown paper, The Examiner. Whereas other eulogies focused on Truman’s presidency, the Examiner shone a light on the living legacy of President Harry S. Truman, the cause to which he dedicated his most active years following his presidency – the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, a site of research, education, reflection, and inspiration.
So moving was the editorial published on the day of his passing that the Honorable William J. Randall of Missouri chose to read it in its entirety into the record of the House of Representatives.
We share it with you now, in its entirety, and invite you all to remember the man from Independence, Harry S. Truman.
The whole world joins us in our sorrow.
Independence was Harry Truman’s home town and a city never had a more loyal citizen. We naturally feel his loss more acutely than any other place could.
But through the years we have shared him with others. First, with Missourians when we sent him to the Senate, and then the nation when he became the 33rd President. And finally with the world as he provided leadership in the post-war years.
And now Harry Truman is dead at 88.
Harry Truman wasn’t the kind of president who was forgotten when he left the White House. He wasn’t the kind of man who felt his work was done when he retired from the presidency although he was already a senior citizen.
Truman made the presidential library which he chose to locate in his home city, his personal project and he working untiringly, traveled hundreds of miles, and made dozens of speeches on its behalf.
The flag is now at half mast at the beautiful structure on the crown of the hill where Truman spent eight busy, happy years involved in a maze of activities.
“The library will belong to the people of the United States,” he said in the legend for one of the cornerstones. “My papers will be the property of the people and will be accessible to them. The papers of the president are among the most valuable sources of material for history. They out to be preserved and they ought to be used.”
Truman wanted his papers available for “furthering the study of free government and of the participation of the United States in world affairs.”
And as Truman wished and dreamed, his library has been used by researchers who wrote books, and has been visited by more than two-million history-loving Americans. His beliefs and philosophy are perpetuated there.
And students fortunate enough to visit the library in educational groups in the years when the former president kept office hours will never forget his folksy history lessons.
He told them that their government is the greatest in the history of the world and urged them to study their history and “learn what we have.”
Truman made more major decisions in his nearly eight years as chief executive than any other president. Reading, particularly history, a lifelong hobby, gave him invaluable background for his role.
Truman, as no other American president, told it like it was — he said what was on his mind. He was willing to speak up if he felt the occasion justified it, a trait which endeared him to the common man.
Truman, who set out to be a good president, became a great president by doing a good job.
He was willing to fight for what he thought was right. He fought a good fight all of his life, even to the end.
Harry Truman now belongs to immortality.
We invite you to visit Truman’s presidential library in Independence to learn more about Truman’s world-shaping presidency, our democracy and Truman himself.
The Truman Library is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays). Admission is free to Truman Library Institute members or $8 for adults, $7 for adults 65+, $6 for students or $3 for youth (ages 6-15). Plan your visit today.
Join Harry Truman’s legacy today by becoming a member. Gifts from our members and donors help preserve the legacy of our nation’s 33rd president and ensure that his library remains a resource and inspiration for generations to come.
The Examiner’s eulogy was printed in 93rd Congress, 1st Session, “Memorial Services in the Congress of the United States and Tributes in Eulogy of Harry S Truman Late A President of the United States,” United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1973.
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President Harry S. Truman made eight Christmas addresses to the nation during his presidency. In these speeches, which were broadcast from Washington, D.C., or his home in Independence, MO, President Truman spoke about his faith and the connections between it and democracy, compared the plight of Jesus and Mary to that of those doing without or homeless during Christmas, heralded the bravery and purpose of those fighting in Korea, and called on his fellow Americans to uphold the promise of the Christmas story, democracy, and world peace.
Welcome guest blogger Kaete O’Connell, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Temple University, who received a Research Grant to explore the archives at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum thanks to the generosity of Truman Library Institute members and donors. Thank you to the American Historical Association for allowing us to reprint her blog post on food relief in post-war Germany.
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes … and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility,” Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote. Throughout her monumental life, Roosevelt made choices that shaped the person she is remembered as today. She was a beloved first lady and a tireless social activist, but she was also a woman of great faith. Her beliefs and convictions fueled her passion to work for reform and advocate for civil rights, women’s rights and the rights of marginalized people around the world.
In Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography, local author Dr. Harold Ivan Smith provides a portrait of the legendary Eleanor Roosevelt and the spirituality that shaped her decisions as first lady and eventually as Harry S. Truman’s delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Roosevelt survived a traumatic childhood that included the deaths of both of her parents, became first lady in a time of turmoil and helped the nation through a world war. Even after her husband’s death, she continued in public service and as a lifelong friend of Truman. Dr. Smith’s latest book provides an inspirational look into Roosevelt’s life offers a new angle on her life and legacy.
Each year some two dozen historians, writers and scholars receive Research Grants to explore the archives at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. These prestigious research grants are made possible thanks to the generosity of Truman Library Institute members and donors.
Donors have made it possible for the Truman Library Institute to give out nearly $2.7 million over the years for researchers all over the world to travel to Independence to immerse themselves in archival research and further our understanding of the Truman era.
The John K. Hulston Scholarship is unique in that it allows a researcher to visit multiple research facilities—including the Truman Library—for their research. Rachel MacMaster, a Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University, was awarded this grant and recently traveled to the Truman Library to research. We took a few minutes of Rachel’s time to learn about her research and what she learned while on site at the Truman Library. Read More