Meet our writers

 







Nostalgia August 2012

My Hero Harry Truman Set the Example for Politicians

By Denton Harris

He was a man, sometimes looked down on by Ivy League school graduates, and ignored by some Congressional leaders, yet history has proven this simple Midwesterner had more common sense and human sensitivity than his famous, polished contemporaries.

From time to time I personally select a “hero” from those people who have made America the great country it is (or used to be, some friends say).

Perhaps my favorite hero of all time is that haberdashery clerk from Kansas City, former president of our nation, Harry Truman.

When Harry and Bess Truman left Washington after his term in office, they didn’t have a retirement party or showers of attention from world leaders. They got into their automobile and drove home. No famous good byes, no farewell celebrations. Simply the two of them, with no Secret Service or reporters and flashing cameras. Harry was driving. His cost to taxpayers was a fraction of what is spent today by the White House occupants.

Here was a man who made some of history’s greatest decisions, who retired with a tiny pension that was later modified by a grateful nation. Perhaps his greatest decision was dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. The infantry division I served in during World War II left Europe and headed into the Pacific to be one of the many planned for the invasion of Japan. I sincerely believe if Truman had not made his decision on the bomb, I would not be writing this because Japan was determined -- from the youngest to the oldest -- to never allow Americans to survive on Japanese soil.

After his retirement, Truman was offered huge sums for speaking engagements, consumer endorsements, and public appearances where promoters knew he would, as our former president, draw large crowds. He refused, saying these offers were made because he held the office of president of the United States and he felt that office as not for sale.

He was a man, sometimes looked down on by Ivy League school graduates, and ignored by some Congressional leaders, yet history has proven this simple Midwesterner had more common sense and human sensitivity than his famous, polished contemporaries. History continues to expand on how he served his people and set what should be rigid rules for politicians today. Truman’s integrity was never for sale. He and wife Bess returned to Independence, Missouri, and lived in the home Bess’s parents had left to them. I attended a nearby college and hitch-hiked past that simple, but now famous house. Before her death, Beth Truman often was seated on that big front porch.

Today when I read or hear of public figures assembling huge fortunes in office while supposedly serving their constituents, I always think of that simple, yet complex, man, Harry Truman.


Meet Denton