Once upon a time there was a young high school graduate who joined the National Guard in Missouri. He was a hard working farmer and was pretty good at it. About ten years later he went to war as a Captain of an artillery unit. World War One in Europe had been going on prior to the U.S.A. joining the British and the French against the Germans. He came home from the war with new ambitions and opened a men’s haberdashery. He was not very good in business and it failed. Later, he became an elected judge in Jackson County, Missouri. It was an administrative job which he adapted to and did well. His name was Harry S. Truman.
In 1934, after being involved in Politics for some time, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. As an obscure Democrat Senator from a small state, not many people knew or heard of him. However, in 1939 when President Roosevelt needed someone to oversee the vast amount of military spending, he was selected. It became known as the Truman Committee. The experience he gained as an administrative judge in Missouri served him well.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose Senator Truman to run as his vice-president in 1944. The president needed a southern senator to balance the ticket as there was opposition to his running for a third term. Three months after winning the election President Roosevelt died. Harry S. Truman was suddenly president of the United States. He was little prepared of the workings of the office. FDR had not taken him in his confidence or given him any guidance. He was not told about the secret atomic bomb project. However, what was to follow is what makes Truman my favorite president.
President Truman suddenly had a lot to deal with upon taking office. First he had to deal with the war and the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. Then he had to face the transition to peace in the U.S.A. and Europe. His Fair Deal for the U.S.A. was largely rejected by the Republican Congress, however. He ended discrimination in the armed forces and went after communist supporters in office. Then Russia and Communism began flexing its might in Europe. To combat them, he enacted the Truman Doctrine which provided aid to Turkey and Greece, which were targets. He followed with the Marshal Plan, a large scale program of aid to stabilize other counties in Europe. He witnessed the onset of the United Nations and NATO. He supported the creation of the State of lsrael. Whew! There were many other achievements. As a result, the U.S.A. and the world began prospering because of his leadership.
Other world leaders did not understand President Truman's strength and underestimated his will. When Russia blockaded Berlin, he ordered the Berlin Air Lift to supply the people in the city. When North Korea attacked South Korea he sent in troops and formed a global coalition to push them back. He had a backbone that surprised many. Even one of our own most decorated generals saw it. General Douglas Macarthur was taken aback when the President flew to Korea to relieve him of command in the Korean conflict. A plaque in his office said, “The buck stops here.” And he had a saying, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
So what did we learn tonight children? This man was not a learned professor. He was a humble man with common sense from rural America. When he faced tough decisions, he handled them head on. He did not lead from behind or blame others. He was a gentle man who could get in your face. He was not from academia where you need to ponder simple questions. He was direct and decisive. Isn't that a president that you would want for your future? Now go to sleep and pray that you do. A national election is coming soon.
Philip Migliore — Franklin, N.C.