Statue to greet Truman Library visitors

By Mike Genet
The Examiner
Members of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leapfrogs, dropped in Thursday on the lawn in front of the Truman Library as part of Navy Week in Kansas City.

Truman Library officials on Thursday dedicated the statue of the 33rd president that will greet visitors to the renovated library, and dozens of guests waited for a few drop-ins. 

Harry Truman’s grandson Clifton Truman Daniel and great-grandson Wesley Daniel unveil the statue gifted for the reopening of the Truman Presidential Library and Museum. In the background are sculptor Dexter Benedict, right, and benefactor Don Wertman, both of New York.

Since Friday’s library reopening happened to fall during Kansas City’s Navy Week, five members of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the “Leapfrogs,” dropped in on the library's south lawn off U.S. 24. 

The statue was sculpted by upstate New York artist Dexter Benedict, commissioned by New York businessman and Truman admirer Don Wertman as a gift for the library’s reopening after a nearly two-year renovation. It depicts Truman walking and holding out his hat in greeting people. 

Clifton Truman Daniel, the president’s grandson, said he appreciated the “great statue,” and while his grandfather generally wasn’t a fan of statues, “He would have loved this one.” 

Benedict’s earlier works include a bust of Justice Robert Jackson, who was chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials and was appointed to the Supreme Court by Truman. A smaller bust of Jackson later went to the Truman Library. He called this commissioned statue a “very worthy, enjoyable and at times moving work.” 

A member of the Leapfrogs, the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, drops in on the south lawn of the Truman Library as part of Kansas City’s Navy Week.

“I consider it a great honor to be able to try to give a sense of personage to Harry Truman in bronze,” Benedict said. 

Tickets for the Truman Library are available online only at TrumanLibrary.gov. They are $12 each for general admission, $10 for seniors 62 and older and veterans/military, $8 for college students (with ID) and $5 for children age 13-18. Children 12 and younger are free.