Today the community and the whole state of Missouri stop to honor a favorite son, Harry Truman.
Truman, the nation’s 33rd president, led the country with a steady hand in turbulent times as World War II drew to a close and the Cold War took shape. He is remembered and honored for what he did while president and what he stood for. Those values ought to be passed on.
Honesty and courage count for a great deal. Neither quality will always make a person popular, but Truman pushed ahead, making decisions he knew might be unpopular but that he thought were right. History has shown he was right a lot more often than he was wrong. He could be overly blunt, but he carried no hidden agendas.
Optimism and perseverance are crucial. Truman had known the hard work of the farm, the terror of war, the sharp disappointment of a business gone sour. These did not slow him. He learned from each and eventually launched a brilliant political career.
Know who you are and where you’re from. Truman knew his community, and it’s telling that he and Bess came back to Independence to live as soon as he left office. He knew history and knew the value of such knowledge. In that sense, he was among the better prepared presidents we’ve ever had when he entered office. He applied those lessons well.
He believed politics can and should be a means of helping people. That reminder might be useful for many of today’s officeholders. Truman didn’t need focus groups to tell him whose side he was on. He stood up for working people, and he stood up for civil rights, among other things. He pushed for programs that made things better for Americans.
Truman embodied many qualities that we like to think are the best part of the Midwest and best part of America. It might be summed up like this: Keep a smile on your face, do your homework, act decisively, stick by your guns, and don’t ever give up. Always do your best. No one gets everything done that they would like to, and we all make mistakes, but if you press on and do what you see as right, good things happen.
He helped make America a better place to live.
This editorial is one The Examiner has printed for many years on Harry Truman’s birthday.