Former Commander-in-Chief Harry S. Truman was a very interesting and influential man
in our history. He was raised in Independence, Missouri, near Kansas City. His parents were
farmers. Farmers are really down-to-earth, pragmatic, and simple people. As a result, Truman
ended up having all of those qualities stamped in him.
His personality changed throughout the years of his life and it reflected exactly what was
going on with him in his life at those times. He was always very simple about everything, just like
any farmer would be. In farming, unlike business, there are not complexities, either crops grow,
or they don't. In business, you go into all sorts of different problems with all sorts of different
solutions to them and you can spend hours upon hours philosophizing them.
Truman was always honest and candid. He always took full responsibility for his actions,
good or bad. Those qualities, he adopted from his parents, and community in his youth.
If there is one thing about farmers that is most bluntly apparent, it is that they are poor.
Farmers work harder than most people and yet, still are poorer. The Truman family was a very
poor one. In fact, Truman was the poorest man to become President of the United States in the
Twentieth Century.
He was poor, and he did have a poor education with no college, but he also loved to read.
He read anything you'd put in front of him. By the time he reached age 15 he had read every
book in the Independence Library.
His favorite thing to read about though, was history. He loved history. One thing that he
discovered on his own was that history comes and goes in cycles. He was quoted for saying, "All
readers aren't leaders, but all leaders are readers."
In 1905, Truman began a career with the Army National Guard as a private in Field
Artillery and he was honorably discharged in 1911.
In 1915, he married "Bess." In his heart though, he wasn't conformed. He wanted
something else out of life. He didn't want to just farm all his life. He got his break at the start of
World War I.
When the United States entered the first World War, he returned to the Missouri Guard.
In those days, the people elected their leaders in volunteer units and he got elected to a Field
Artillery first lieutenant. His unit was federalized and he arrived in France the next year.
Truman got promoted to Captain very soon and commanded a firing battery during the St.
Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives. During that time, he boldly displayed a characteristic of
his that was to follow him throughout the rest of his life. He always did what was right, not what
was easy. "His battery acquired an enemy target in another division's sector. Truman's
commander threatened him with court-martial if he fired on the enemy battery. Truman told him
to go ahead and court martial because he wasn't going to let that battery open up on American
troops without his outfit taking action against it. Truman's battery neutralized the enemy guns
and there was no court martial."
For his excellent work and leadership, he was promoted to Major and went back home.
He learned a lot from his experiences at war. He learned that death in war, although inevitable,
should be cut back.
After getting back from the war Bess and he moved from Independence to Kansas City.
Since he was a man that loved clothing and fashion, he opened his own Clothing Store for men in
Downtown. He was not cut out to be businessman though because as a person, he was too nice.
His store ended up becoming a World War I veteran gathering place.
People would go and ask him to lend them clothes or to give them clothes for free and
they'll pay him later and never pay and just like that his store went broke and he was left bankrupt
in 1925. That same year, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
Truman and Bess went back to work at the farms at Independence after failing in the
Business world, but he got a chance at something else when he was approached by Democratic
Party members from Kansas City.
In 1926, Truman ran for County Commissioner and the people elected him. He though
well always, not deep. He was always simple yet made his point. He was the type of guy that
says more in ten words than most people do in ten