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KC with a stop in Independence

sunny 85 °F

(Saturday) After leaving Marceline with warm feelings about the Disney story, I decided to head SW on old US HWY24. A two-lane highway over 'hill and dale' it followed the curvature of the rolling hills of Missouri. It is harvest time and the farmers are in the fields cutting corn, transporting the kernels in tractor-trailer loads to the storage silos located every few miles. It was quite a sight. Dozens of huge combines cutting 20 corn rows at a time, scores of trailer trucks lined up at the meriod silos waiting to empty their loads to return to the fields for more corn. The crop cycle has been interesting to observe. It was the planting season in May as I left FL traveling across AL, MS, LA, and AR. Now, 5 months later I am watching the harvest in IL & MO.
My destination today was Independence, former President Harry S. Truman's home town. After getting settled at the RV park I drove around to see the town, not small at pop. 120K. Of course, everything is named Truman. Streets, restaurants, etc. The Presidential Museum opens at noon on Sundays so I will be there at opening time.

(Sunday) Weather, hot & sunny. The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is very well done. The stone building is of a circular shape with a court yard in the center. The courtyard is a lovely landscaped garden with curved walkways and benches. The burial sites of the President and Mrs. Truman along with their daughter are there.
Inside the building the visitors first view a 17 minute film on Mr. Truman's life. He grew up on a farm, worked the fields, and learned to be resourceful (as farmers are), practical, and conservative with a strong dose of honesty and common sense. These traits proved valuable in his career. The Presidency was thrust upon him with the death of FDR. As a US Senator he was Roosevelt's running mate in his (FDR's) unprecedented 4th term of office. He, as FDR's successor & the new President, was faced with decisions which would and did reshape the world as we know it today. Germany was on the brink of collapse and the focus was on the defeat of Japan. The Russians, while our allies had their sights on keeping as much of Europe as possible. Harry never trusted them. His leadership, honed as an Artillery Captain in WWI, served him well in office. During his terms of office the decision to drop the A & H bombs on Japan were made with the subsequent capitulation of the Japanese Empire. After Germany was divided into 4 zones of occupancy the Soviets cut off Berlin. The Berlin Airlift, authorized by Truman saved the starving Germans with the year-long campaign to supply food, coal, etc. to our former enemies using 594 US cargo planes, as depicted in the museum. The Cold War had started. Other issues he faced was the reconstruction of war-torn Europe with the Marshall Plan, his decision to recognize and establish a Jewish nation in Palestine, called Isreal, & the labor strikes in America following the War's end. He was elected in 1950 to a compete term with a razor-thin victory over Thomas E. Dewey. He, then faced the Communist invasion of Korea and the US involvement to contain them, known now as the Korean War.
He said later that he did not want the job of President in the first place, but did his very best to serve the American people while in office. After fulfilling his term in 1953 and turning it over to former General Dwight Eisenhower, the newly-elected President, all he wanted to do was to return to Independence, his home town. He refused all commercial opportunities for speaking, books, etc. for he said he served the country to the best of his ability while in office and wanted nothing more from it. Under Eisenhower a Presidential Retirement Stipend was passed to supplement former Presidents' income. In visiting the Truman house, a National Landmark Site under the National Park Service, a docent explained the Truman's simple lifestyle in retirement. They, did however, host a number of world leaders in their modest living room during their retirement years. He was known as "The common man's President.
My next stop was to visit The National Frontier Trails Museum. Independence, MO was the "Trailhead" to both the Sante Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail, a place where westward-bound settlers purchased and outfitted their prairie schooners for the long trip into the unknown western United States. There were 400,000 people who endured the hardships of those travels during the 1840' & 1850's, 90% were able to make it, the other 40,000 or so died along the way. Lewis & Clark's discoveries charted the path to Oregon in 1804-1806. The transcontinental railroad was completed in the 1860's and replaced the wagon train mode of travel. I learned that the fabled Pony Express Mail Service began in 1860 using horse and rider relay teams along the 2,000 mile route between nearby St. Joseph, MO and Sacremento, CA. The mail delivery was shortened from 25 days by stagecoach to just 10 days by pony express. With the coming of the cross-country railroad the 19 month duration of the Pony Express system ended. It was an education and a stop I was glad to have made.

Posted by dixter 06:54 Archived in USA Tagged harry independence truman's

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