I've got to tell you that history is not my forte. What's a little embarrassing is my lack of knowledge regarding US History. My HS history teacher played movies like Red Dawn during class. I know things happened like the Revolution and the Civil War. The Great Depression. A couple of World Wars. I know some things, but I don't know a whole lot about US Presidents. We performed a musical in third grade where we sang a song about all the US Presidents. We named them in order. That's the only time I knew all of the Presidents in order. I traded that information for the Krebs Cycle. If you were to ask me if I knew who Harry S. Truman was, I would be able to say that he was a US President, but that's about it. I knew very little about the man or his time in office. So to fix that, Michael and I visited the Truman Presidential Library on Sunday. Nothing like a little hands on learning. Also, it gave us an opportunity to put a stamp in our National Parks passport.
I learned that Harry Truman was one of those presidents that I probably would have voted for, even though I'm not sure about that decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Of course, I'm sure that wasn't any easy decision to make and can be easily turned into a chicken or egg first debate. The man had a lot on his plate with the end of a war, returning soldiers, housing crisis, civil rights, the beginnings of the Cold War with Russia and fighting against communism in South Korea.
It was also interesting to see just how much things haven't changed. Take for instance Truman's Fair Deal that he presented to congress.
Increase minimum wage. Social Security benefits. Education. Higher income taxes on the wealthy. All of those are things that we are still working on. As well as civil rights issues. We have cell phones that recognize our finger prints, mastered open heart surgery, and soon will have cars that drive themselves, but we are still arguing over fair wages and civil rights. We've traded our fears of nuclear attacks from Russia for plane hijackings by terrorists. Different stuff, same deal.
I learned a lot about Harry and that time frame of our US history. After his years in office, Mr. Truman returned to his home in Independence MO. There are all kinds of stories of him strolling around downtown. In fact most of the statues of him in the area depict him in stride with a walking cane. I like the idea of Mr. Truman strolling around his hometown. It's easy to see our presidents as celebrity figures. We forget that they are regular citizens that just stood up to serve their country and when that service is over, they return to their lives as regular citizens. OK...maybe not regular, but they do return to their communities.
As we left the library, Michael mentioned something about how it would be nice to visit all of the presidential libraries. It really would make a great Life List item and a fantastic way to learn about our US Presidents.