Whilst in Independence yesterday, we snagged the last three tickets of the day for a tour of Harry S Truman's home and in the late afternoon we joined National Park Ranger Norton and two other guests to get a look inside this lovely mansion.


No photographs inside, so you'll have to imagine the home of a couple born in the late 19th century, living there until the 1970s,  Let's describe it as homely.  Oh, and wallpapered - every inch of wall and ceiling!


We returned to Independence this morning to visit the Harry S Truman Presidential Museum and Library.  Regular readers will know how much we enjoy visiting such places, finding them a great way of learning about history but also getting an insight to the man.  Visiting the house had given us that, for Ranger Norton had shared stories about the Trumans and their daughter, Margaret.  Still, we were eager to learn about his time as President.  


The foyer was home to another of Thomas Hart Benton's amazing murals.  We first came across them in the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City a couple of years ago and this one was no less spectacular.


The story in the library began with the elevation of Harry Truman to the role of President, following Roosevelt's sudden death.  We'd already learned how Harry Truman had not planned a career in politics and how events had seemingly conspired to create his career for him.  To find himself in such a position just a few months after being elected Vice President came as quite a shock, especially considering the events that were going to require some serious decision making.


We learned that in 1945, the post-war recovery problems such as high unemployment and housing shortages needed swift resolution.  


As we walked through the displays, it was clear that Truman had faced one crisis after another.  Events of world importance demanded decisions and swift action, too.  For someone to suddenly find themselves in the midst of such crises must have been awful.  No wonder he sought solace with his family in Independence at every opportunity.


The first such dilemma he faced was being inroduced to the Manhattan Project within weeks of accepting the Presidency.


The museum had traced no written evidence of the order which resulted in the bomb on Hiroshima and merely displayed an envelope with a "not to be opened until...." which had perhaps contained an order of some kind.


Nevertheless, the result were swift and his decisive action brought acclaim.


By the time he sought election to the Presidency in his own right, things were getting more tricky.  Communism was becoming troubling and the Cold War was gaining momentum.  Divisive issues created rifts within his own party and the general opinion was not in Truman's favour.


Norman Rockwell captured the scene over a kitchen table in his usual insightful, clever style.


Truman's victory was so narrow that it caught out those who'd prediced a rather different outcome.


But I wonder how long it was before the events of his second term began to wear him down?

When I read the letter accompanying this Purple Heart which was returned to him, I couldn't help but wonder how tough one needs to be to hold such office.  The sentiments expressed in the letter were perfectly understandable in the circumstances and yet remarkably cruel too.


Surely then, upon leaving office, it must have come as such a relief to return to Independence and live as  private citizen once more.  We read how, at that time, he was regarded as a weak and ineffective leader, but as the years have passed, his reputation has strengthened.  I'd say that here in his own hometown, he is regarded fondly and spoken of with pride.  Certainly, almost every lamppost has that unmistakeable silhouette attached to it.


We left through the gift shop, where the souvenirs included an example of the current trend and copies of the sign which was always on Harry Truman's desk:

We're in Kansas!

We're in Kansas!

Jumping off

Jumping off