Billy Joel Teaches History

Harry Truman

I think it’s important to be absolutely transparent about this process.  So right away I need to tell you I’m listening to ‘I Go to Extremes’ while writing this.  It was Harry Truman’s favorite song.  No it wasn’t.  Harry S. Truman (1884 - 1872) was the 33rd President of the United States of America so he pre-dated Billy Joel by a lot.  Nonetheless Billy Joel felt strongly enough about Harry Truman to open ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ with him.  In fashion shows the opening and closing looks are often the most noted, thus big name models frequently wear them.  I’m just saying... if this were Zac Posen’s Spring/Summer 2013 show, Harry Truman would be Naomi Campbell. 

I will just let that image sit with you for a moment.  Along with this one:

Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman.  I don't know where this photo came from or who owns it but it is amazing. 
Some of the many things Harry S Truman did before he became the 33rd POTUS include serving as an officer in the First World War, marrying Elizabeth (Bess) Wallace in 1919, fathering daughter Mary Margaret, being elected presiding judge for the County Court of eastern Jackson County (Missouri) in 1926, winning the 1934 US Senate seat for Missouri, and spearheading the ‘Truman Committee’ to fight waste and corruption in the Second World War.

In 1944 Truman was chosen to be Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate and in January 20, 1945 he was sworn in as Vice President.
On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away. Offering his consolation to the widowed Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?" Mrs. Roosevelt responded, "Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now."  (From 'Eleanor & Harry: The Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S Truman')
The official White House biography of Harry Truman notes that "as President, Truman made some of the most crucial decisions in history".  In August 1945 Truman authorized the use of atomic weapons against Japan after the Japanese turned down the Potsdam Declaration. On August 6, 1945 the atomic bomb Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima and on August 9, 1945 the atomic bomb Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki. The Japanese agreed to surrender on August 14 and Eleanor Roosevelt noted that Truman had "made the only decision he could".

Truman strongly supported creation of the United Nations and instituted the 'Marshall Plan' which was designed to assist with the rebuilding of post-war Europe. He also signed the National Security Act of 1947 which, among other things, created the CIA and the National Security Council.

You can't trust everything you read.
During the 1948 presidential election, Truman strongly backed civil rights and issued Executive Order 9981 which racially integrated the US Armed Services.  His second term in office saw him announce the detonation of the first US hydrogen bomb on January 7, 1953, offer strong support to NATO, and intervene in the Chinese Civil War in June of 1950.  On June 25, 1950 the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea, precipitating the Korean War.  Early victories led to an unfortunate stalemate at the 38th parallel. General MacArthur wanted to attack Chinese supply bases north of the Yalu but Truman rejected the plan and, when it later leaked to the press, fired MacArthur. The least politically popular move of his career would prove to be the firing of MacArthur. Truman's approval rating plummeted and he endured impeachment calls.

In 1948 Truman had ordered a controversial addition to the White House: a balcony known as the 'Truman Balcony'.  It soon proved the only stable part of a deteriorating House and when the White House was subsequently closed for extensive interior renovations, the Truman family moved across the street to Blair House.  It was at Blair House where, on November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to assassinate Truman.

In 1953 Truman retired and returned home to Independence, Missouri.  Today, in Independence, you can hire a Billy Joel tribute act to perform at your special event - even one held, perhaps, at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. 

There are some, quite frankly, awesome quotes attributed to Truman.
“My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

“If you can't convince them, confuse them.”

“Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures - character.”