45 Years Ago President Truman Died – Remembering A Man of Conviction and Courage

Harry Truman Died December 26, 1972 At Age 88.

Some Words About and From President Truman

Here’s how the CBS Evening News covered the death of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. This three minute clip reflects the simplicity of Harry Truman.

Throughout his life Harry Truman spoke his mind and was honest and ethical, highly unusual traits for a politician.

How much of a straight shooter was Harry Truman? The following story clearly illustrates it.

President Nixon tours Truman Library with President Truman March 21 1969 photo: Harry S. Truman Library

When he retired from public life in 1953, President Truman and his wife Bess moved into his mother-in-law’s house in Independence, MO. They had almost no money.

Truman had been offered many jobs, but turned them all down. Truman had not exploited his fame or former power of the high office he had held for monetary gain.

“I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency,” Truman would later write of his refusal to influence-peddle to get by.

No president received a pension until 1958 when Congress established a law giving former presidents a pension of $25,000 per year.

Truman would frequently recite this prayer…and mean it:

“Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of Heaven, Earth and the Universe: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellowmen—help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings—even as Thou understandest mine! Amen.”

To get a sense of Harry Truman, I highly recommend David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography Truman (Simon & Schuster) 1992, as it is thoroughly enjoyable and has some great quotations from and about Truman.

The following are from the book, Truman:

“He held to the old guidelines: work hard, do your best, speak the truth, assume no airs, trust in God, have no fear.”

“Three things ruin a man,” Harry would tell a reporter long afterward. “Power, money, and women. “I never wanted power,” he said. “I never had any money, and the only woman in my life is up at the house right now.”

“What was most striking about the long course of human events, Truman had concluded from his reading of history, were its elements of continuity, including, above all, human nature, which had changed little if at all through time. “The only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know,” he would one day tell an interviewer.”

“One August morning at Blair House, he read in the papers that the body of an American soldier killed in action, Sergeant John Rice, had been brought home for burial in Sioux City, Iowa, but that at the last moment, as the casket was to be lowered into the grave, officials of the Sioux City Memorial Park had stopped the ceremony because Sergeant Rice, a Winnebago Indian, was not “a member of the Caucasian race” and burial was therefore denied. Outraged, Truman picked up the phone. Within minutes, by telephone and telegram, it was arranged that Sergeant Rice would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and that an Air Force plane was on the way to bring his widow and three children to Washington. That, as President, was the least he could do.”

“Inwardly Truman was an extremely frustrated, resentful, and angry man, worn thin by criticism, fed up with crises not of his making and with people who, as he saw it, cared nothing for their country, only their own selfish interests.”

“Truman had been sitting in a chair in the bedroom with several new books stacked on a table beside him. Did the President like to read himself to sleep at night, McCormick asked. “No, young man,” said Truman, “I like to read myself awake.”

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3 thoughts on “45 Years Ago President Truman Died – Remembering A Man of Conviction and Courage

  1. Michael Mattei

    My parents and relatives loved Truman especially my uncles who were heading for Japan. My Godfather saw up close how fanatical the Japs were at Okinawa. He called the Kamakazis that were shot down before reaching their ships, greasespots.

  2. Brian

    I remember Truman’s death because we got off from school for the funeral. I also remember asking my parents who Harry Truman was (I was 8).

    My, how times have changed…


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