2021: History Boy Summer (Part 21) Truman Library and Museum

I somehow never managed to go to the “old” version of the Truman Library – this is despite the fact that my Grandfather actually worked for some of his family in Kansas, and the fact that I’ve lived in Independence for a few years now. Then again, I wasn’t taken on too many crazy car trips when I was super young, so there is that. I knew that when I moved to Independence, I needed to rectify the situation, but no sooner than I planned to go, they ended up rebuilding the whole thing! So here it is, after a multi-million dollar renovation that took a couple of years to complete, I was able to secure some tickets to the newly re-opened museum during the first few weeks of it’s re-opening. In hindsight, I probably should have waited a few months, because it was somewhat crowded, and the giftshop was not completed. Granted I’m not really in the market for a Truman Coffee mug or anything, but you all know I like to read books in conjunction with these. Thankfully masks were encouraged, and I was able to avoid being too close to people – it was less packed than the Auschwitz exhibit.

Truman Library and Museum; Independence, MO

It honestly looks like I picked a great time to visit, as it may have closed yet again due to my states willingness to keep Covid-19 raging on and on :/

Background:

According to their official page:

The Truman Library is a Presidential Library operated by the Federal government. Presidential Libraries are administered by the National Archives and Records Administration as part of the nation’s record-keeping system.

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum is a dynamic educational resource that inspires life-long learning, spurs discussions about democracy and service, and supports local, national, and global citizenship. The Library uses President Truman’s life and legacy to inform, inspire, educate, and engage modern audiences about his timeless wisdom and significant contributions from which the world continues to benefit.

Established in 1957, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum preserves and provides access to President Truman’s historical materials. Through engaging exhibits and programs, the Library aspires to reach a broad and diverse audience in a continuous effort to keep President Truman’s life and legacy alive, emphasizing his ideals of citizenship, learning, and service.

And President Truman according to Wikipedia:

Harry S. Truman[b] (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States, serving from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as the 34th vice president in early 1945. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO to contain communist expansion. He proposed numerous liberal domestic reforms, but few were enacted by the Conservative Coalition that dominated Congress.

Truman grew up in Independence, Missouri, and during World War I fought in France as a captain in the Field Artillery. Returning home, he opened a haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri, and was later elected as a Jackson County official in 1922. Truman was elected to the United States Senate from Missouri in 1934 and gained national prominence as chairman of the Truman Committee, which was aimed at reducing waste and inefficiency in wartime contracts. Soon after succeeding to the presidency, he authorized the first and only use of nuclear weapons in war. Truman’s administration engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. He rallied his New Deal coalition during the 1948 presidential election and won a surprise victory that secured his own presidential term.

After the onset of the Cold War, Truman oversaw the Berlin Airlift and Marshall Plan in 1948. When North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, he gained United Nations approval to intervene in the Korean War. He did not ask for Congressional approval, and as the war stalemated his popularity fell. His administration successfully guided the U.S. economy through the postwar economic challenges; the expected postwar depression never happened. In 1948, he submitted the first comprehensive civil rights legislation. It did not pass, so he instead issued Executive Orders 9980 and 9981 to begin racial equality in federal agencies and the military.

Reading:

For this trip, I am reading President Truman by Jonah Goldberg. I will be honest, I don’t have time to read a 500 page book on Harry S. Truman at the moment, so I have likely chosen a mediocre book to read, considering its free on Kindle Unlimited. This book, however, has good reviews and generally seems to be much more than your typical “let’s copy Wikipedia” affair. Stay tuned for when I get the chance to complete the book and post a review.

The Trip:

I live literally down the street from this museum, so I don’t have a harrowing tale about getting there and what to watch out for. If you live in the general Kansas City or Independence, MO areas, this museum is insanely easy to get to, and is attached to a nice well-maintained park with statues and other things to look at.

Conclusion:

This stop was well worth the wait that I had to get tickets, and the somewhat past my comfort zone crowd inside. You can tell that a lot of time and money has gone into the renovation, however its sad to see it only lasted four weeks before closing yet again. If we are taking into account other local museums, this one is the most similar to the National World War I museum located in downtown Kansas City. There are a lot of videos and interactive exhibits to look at, as well as some really heavy, though provoking stuff. I’m pretty interested in WWI as a whole, and since Truman served in that war, it was cool to see some of the military weapons and stories from his time in the service running an artillery group.

Being able to see the gravesites for the Trumans and their daughter was also a highlight for me, I think that may just be the only one I’ve seen unless I am forgetting something from Washington DC a few decades ago. Here’s hoping I can make it out to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library at some point next year and see how it stacks up! If you are in Independence, there really is no reason to NOT visit this site and learn more about one of, perhaps, the most underrated and misunderstood presidents of all time.

This article is part of my summer series History Boy Summer, which you can keep up with by following this LINK.

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