My son did a research paper on President Truman this past year which really sparked an interest in our 33rd president. Entering office after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman was faced with some of the greatest challenges as he took command of the United States during World War II. His Presidential Library and Museum was the first to be built under the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act which encourages presidents to donate their historical documents to be available to the public. Truman's museum is phenomenal, and one of our favorites. We learned so much about this president, which is our favorite part of touring these national treasure houses.
1 - Truman Renovated the White House
When Truman's family moved into the White House, they discovered the Presidential home in need of much repair. After years of neglect through the Great Depression and World War II, the White House wasn't actually safe for living. When Truman's daughter's piano leg fell through the floor in her second floor sitting room, Truman quickly moved his family out of the White House and began one of the biggest renovations to the White House in it's history.
2 - Eisenhower's Oval Office was Truman's Oval Office
When we visited Eisenhower's Presidential Library, we discovered that his oval office was not displayed because he kept everything the same as his predecessor Truman.
3 - Difficult Decisions
Throughout the museum, you can participate in interactive decision theaters that can help you get an idea for the challenging decisions that a president must face. Some difficult ones Truman encountered:
- Giving the order to attack Japan with the Atom Bomb
- Navigating the post war housing and job shortages
- Economic crisis of war-torn Europe
- Providing aid to Europeans during the Cold War
- Recognizing Israel as a state against heavy political resistance
- Remaining calm when everyone expected him to lose the Presidential election
- Firing General Douglass MacArthur
- Determining how far the government will go to find communist spies
4 - Truman Loved Libraries
One of my favorite things about seeing the oval offices of each president is seeing what books they choose to keep in their bookshelves. Not only did Truman have some excellent options on his shelf in the oval office, but once he retired and built his incredible Presidential Library and Museum, he also created his own personal library within the library filled with more great books.
He really felt passionate about reading and the connection between reading and leading. I love this quote just outside his personal library:
5 - Truman Served People
One of the most fascinating things I learned about President Truman was that he was truly a servant of the people. For most of his presidency he wasn't the most popular guy, but he still got the job done. He was happy to share the credit for a project if it meant that it would be received in a better way by the public.
His legacy of service was inspiring, and I'm so thankful that he worked so hard to capture that for generations to come in his presidential museum.
If you happen to be in or near Kansas City, Missouri, you need to find your way to Independence, MO and visit this great national treasure. You can also visit his childhood home down the street.
Check out some more of the Presidential Libraries and Museums:
- Herbert Hoover Library
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
- Harry S. Truman Library
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Library
- John F. Kennedy Library
- Lyndon B. Johnson Library
- Richard Nixon Library
- Gerald R. Ford Library
- Jimmy Carter Library
- Ronald Reagan Library
- George Bush Library
- William J. Clinton Library
- George W. Bush Library