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Examiner
  • A tour fit for a senator

  • Roy Blunt is settling into Harry Truman’s old office in the U.S. Senate, and on Wednesday he stopped by the Truman Library in Independence to learn a little more about Truman’s 10 years as a senator.

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  • Roy Blunt is settling into Harry Truman’s old office in the U.S. Senate, and on Wednesday he stopped by the Truman Library in Independence to learn a little more about Truman’s 10 years as a senator.
    “It’s a tremendous honor, and I’m proud to be part of that legacy,” Blunt said.
    He visited Wednesday with Library Director Michael Devine and Deputy Director Amy Williams, asking about photos and other records.
    The visit also included seeing public areas of the library such as the current exhibit about painter-and-politician George Caleb Bingham. The centerpiece of that exhibit is an original of “Order No. 11,” which Bingham painted in Independence shortly after the Civil War.
    “I think it’s the most valuable piece of work that the State Historical Society has,” said Blunt, a trustee with that group.
    Nearby, there’s tape of Truman discussing the origins of the Civil War, including the bloody and brutal events in Missouri and Kansas. The other person on the tape points out that people on both sides, including Missouri, did their share of raiding, looting and killing.
    “They weren’t marauders,” Truman shoots back. “The only marauders were from Kansas.”
    “Some things never change,” Blunt quipped. “The only marauders come from Kansas.”
    There were behind-the-scenes treasures too: a look at Truman’s World War I memorabilia, the top hat he wore at his 1949 inauguration, a painting of the “Little White House” that Truman loved visiting in Key West, Fla. Blunt, Devine and Williams lingered for a moment in front of a photo of President Lyndon Johnson coming to the library in 1965 to sign the bill creating Medicare – Truman had first championed the idea – and giving the first Medicare cards to Harry and Bess.
    And there’s this one: One of the stories from the night of Truman’s stunning election victory over Thomas Dewey in 1948 involves the NBC broadcaster H.V. Kaltenborn, who maintained well into the evening that Truman was doomed. Later, Truman famously mocked Kaltenborn, mimicking his distinctive style. You can see a film clip at the library (and on YouTube). Truman, confident of victory, said he heard Kaltenborn on the radio, “and I went back to bed and went to sleep.”
    Kaltenborn, who was said to have taken the ribbing in good spirit, years later gave Truman the microphone he used that night. It sits in storage at the library.
    “He’s a man of great courage,” Blunt said of Truman. “He’s a man of great intregrity,” Blunt said, adding that Truman was well educated, and largely self-taught at that.
    “Missourians,” he said, “have a lot to be proud of.”
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