The city of Independence today presents the annual Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, an honor that in the past has gone to presidents, senators and generals, among others. This year it’s going to Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security in President Obama’s first term.
The ceremony at 1 p.m. is on the front steps of the Truman Library, 500 West U.S. 24 near McCoy Park in Independence. It’s free and open to the public. It’s followed by a reception inside the library.
Also, former Independence Mayor Don Reimal will receive this year's Special Recognition Award, given in appreciation of significant service to the community. Reimal was a City Council member for 12 years and then mayor for eight.
Napolitano was a U.S. attorney in Arizona, then that state’s attorney and then its governor for two terms. She was secretary of homeland security from 2009 to 2013. Today she is the president of the University of California.
The mayor of Independence has a committee that each year gives the Public Service Award to someone judged to have displayed many of Truman’s characteristics such as integrity, hard work and a spirit of public service. Past winners include Presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, historical authors Michael Beschloss and David McCullough, and dozens of U.S. senators and representatives. Past Cabinet secretaries to win it are Cyrus Vance, secretary of state in the Carter administration; and Madeleine K. Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration. Last year the award went to former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas.