May 8 - Happy Birthday to President Truman!

Posted on May 8, 2018

He was just a humble Missouri lad...who grew up to be a U.S. Senator.

And then Vice President. But just for a few months.

And then...President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in April, 1945. So Harry S. Truman became U.S. President. (The one and only president from Missouri!)

At the time that Truman took office, the U.S. was still mired in World War II. Nations of Europe and Asia had been shattered by the war. The economies of the world had gone through a huge depression, and entire groups of people had been displaced or murdered. 

Harry Truman had to make some REALLY tough decisions. to end the war with Japan? Invade mainland Japan? Drop an atomic bomb? 

You probably know that Truman chose to do the latter. You probably also know that no world leader from any nation has made the same choice, so far - not one. 

And yet, many historians argue that the atomic bombs killed fewer people than a conventional-weapons invasion of Japan would have, given the fact that they caused Imperial Japan to quickly give an unconditional surrender.

Truman was president during these last bits of WWII, but he was also president during most of the Korean War AND the start of the Cold War. 

Truman had a sign on his desk that read "the buck stops here."
Even though he had a lot of really tough life-and-death decisions
to make, he took responsibility for them - including taking responsibility
for the unintended consequences of his decisions.

Actually, that's one of the reasons that he was a good leader.

Truman was also president during some of the biggest events striving for peace and mutual understanding. He supported the formation of Israel, he helped found the United Nations (an organization dedicated to peace and diplomacy and international cooperation), and he announced the Truman Doctrine and helped put forward the Marshall Plan (both of which were designed to prevent Communist takeovers of nations and also to help war-torn countries, including former enemies like Germany, to rebuild).

All of that stuff speaks to Truman's desire to use diplomacy to solve problems and to help those who are struggling.

Truman barely squeaked out a victory when he ran for re-election, in 1948.

The election between President Truman
and his Republican challenger, Thomas Dewey,
was so close, some newspapers called
it too soon, and got it wrong.
At one point of his presidency, Truman's approval ratings were lower than any other modern president except (later) Richard Nixon. 

Yet, given all the harrowing situations he faced and the long-term effects of Truman's decisions, historians rank him as "near great," and he routinely shows up as #5 to #9 in the rankings by historians.

I'm not sure what this quote means.
I guess I can say that I'm confused...

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