02-16-2013   1 comment

It seems that honoring past presidents has for some reason been relegated to the month of February.  I’ve always felt that Presidents Day should be celebrated in and around the 4th of July.  It make more sense to me than having every presidents birthday being honored individually which probably explains what it isn’t done that way.  What the hell do I know.

I’ve spent a few hours trying to decide on a specific president to discuss and it’s truly been a difficult decision.  As I was reading about this one or that one I stumbled on a huge surprise.  We’ve had many excellent presidents to be sure and a few real stinkers in recent years.  It’s easy to praise Washington, Lincoln, FDR, or JFK, so I won’t do that.  I’ve never really read a lot about Harry Truman other than he was a plain talking, kick them in the ass, or drop an A-Bomb on them, kind of guy.  Here’s my pleasant surprise of the year so far.  I think we need more guys like this.

* * *

Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. His wife inherited the house from her parents and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there. When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his own stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service protection in those days. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food. Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices.

Good old Harry was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!"

We’ll never see another like Harry Truman but we sure could use someone with his courage and good old common sense approach to things.  So, happy President’s Day Harry, you deserve being recognized as one who set the bar high and then jumped over it.

One response to “02-16-2013

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  1. Anyone who could vaporize all those Nips can’t be all bad. I always thought Bull Halsy would have been a good one,,when asked what he was going to do when he got to the Pacific he said he “was going to drive the Japanese back to Japan then burn their houses” Now those guys new how to wage war,,,,,,he would have been a good president too.

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