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President Harry S. Truman’s Time in the Military – Historic Blog

Chris Hauff Jul 14, 2020

Miss Clark’s Truly Historic Blog! July 17, 2020

As we continue our series featuring Presidents who served in the military this week, the focus moves to President Harry S. Truman, our 33rd President of the United States. Did you know that the “S” in his name stood for his paternal and maternal grandfathers? 

Truman was an avid reader and always believed one could never read enough. After young Harry graduated from school, he worked briefly as a timekeeper for a railroad construction contractor, then as a clerk in two Kansas City banks. He eventually returned to help his father run the family farm. He continued working as a farmer for more than ten years. For most of his life, Truman continued to keep farmer’s hours – getting up at 5:00 am and walking one mile every day.

Harry S. Truman served as captain of Battery D of the 129th Field Artillery Regiment in World War I.

In 1905, Truman enlisted in the Missouri National Guard, where he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery. The 2nd Regiment was activated and he was sent to France. Later promoted to Captain, the future President commanded the Regiment’s Battery D. After World War I, Harry S. Truman served in the Army Officer Reserve Corps and eventually earned a promotion to Colonel. 

Upon returning from the war, he married his sweetheart, Bess. They had one child whom they named Mary-Margaret.

Truman entered the world of politics as a judge and built a reputation for honesty and efficiency. Then in 1934, elected to the U.S. Senate, he began serving on many committees and even becoming chairman of the Senate Special Committee charged with investigating the National Defense Committee. 

So, it was not a real surprise when Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated him as his running mate in 1944. Little did anyone realize that in only 82 days from being sworn in to serve as Roosevelt’s V.P., he would become President! 

He described his first year as President a “year of decisions.” Truman had to make one of the most challenging decisions ever made by a president up to that time. That was to drop the atomic bomb, which many felt was needed to end WWII and save lives.

According to records, one of the President’s favorite moments surrounded a newspaper article when he ran for re-election. It showed his opponent Thomas Dewey winning. During the night, after the papers had already been sent to the presses, TRUMAN actually won.

After his time in office, President Truman was often quoted saying he loved being called, “Mr. Citizen.” As many Presidents do, he spent his remaining days writing, speaking and working on his Presidential Library. (You can visit that library and his and his wife’s final resting place in Independence, Missouri or online at https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/)

Pictured are President Truman’s grandsons.

P.S. I had the opportunity of meeting President Truman’s oldest grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, when he spoke at a Korean War Teachers’ Conference several years back. He and his family lived with the President for a while. (During this time, the White House was being restored.) Yet the grandson said he did not know his grandfather was the President until he was six. (Today he is a writer as was his mother and grandfather.)

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History Education Program Coordinator Cindy Clark (Miss Clark) comes out of the brig aboard the USS Yorktown.

Getting To Know Miss Clark:

My name is Cindy Clark, but most of my life as a teacher I’ve been known as Miss Clark. For more than 24 years, I was blessed to teach in a traditional classroom full of students who often taught me more than I taught them. Today, I am honored to be part of the Education Department aboard the USS Yorktown at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, and boy is my classroom much BIGGER!!!

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