• Truman inducted to post's Hall of Fame

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    President Harry S. Truman was officially inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame in a ceremony Nov. 13 in Eisenhower Auditorium of the Lewis and Clark Center.
    “He came from humble beginnings and he rose to the highest office of our nation and was faced with the most challenging decisions that any national leader could ever be faced with,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth and commandant of the Command and General Staff College.
    Truman is the second U.S. president to receive the honor after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, who was inducted into the HOF in 1969.
    The Fort Leavenworth HOF was established in 1969 by the Henry Leavenworth Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army and Fort Leavenworth leaders.
    Now with 114 members, each inductee has a shadowbox in the atrium of the Lewis and Clark Center with a photo and citation of their contributions to the Army. The HOF is organized by eras including the pre-Civil War era; the Civil War to World War I era; the World War I and II era; the Korea, Vietnam and Cold War era; and the post-Cold War era.
    The HOF honors “outstanding members of the Army, who after being stationed at Fort Leavenworth significantly contributed to the history, heritage and traditions of the Army,” according to the CAC website.
    Truman was born in Lamar, Mo., on May 8, 1884, and eventually moved to Independence, Mo., with his family in 1890. He enlisted into the Missouri National Guard in 1905 and served until 1911. He reenlisted in 1917 when America entered into World War I. During the war, he commanded Battery D, 129th Field Artillery as part of the 35th Division. He discharged as a major in 1919 and was appointed to the Reserve Officer Corps in 1920.
    In 1923, he attended the Reserve officer annual training at Fort Leavenworth. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1925 and served with the 379th Field Artillery and assumed command of the regiment after his promotion to colonel in 1932.
    During his civilian career, Truman was elected to represent Jackson County’s eastern district on the three-member county court in 1922. He lost reelection in 1924, but was elected presiding judge of Jackson County in 1926. In 1933, he became Missouri’s director of the Federal Re-employment Program, a New Deal organization that brought him to the attention of Roosevelt administration officials.
    In 1934, he was elected as a U.S. senator from Missouri and was reelected in 1940. In 1944, while President Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for a fourth term, Democrats nominated Truman as his vice-presidential running mate. He was sworn into the office of vice president in January 1945 and was sworn in as the 33rd president following Roosevelt’s death in April 1945.
    Page 2 of 4 - During his presidency, Truman authorized the deployment of the atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the Japanese refused to surrender. In 1947, he signed a National Security Act merging the Department of War and Navy and created the U.S. Air Force, and established the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency. In July 1948, he issued an executive order desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces.
    In November 1948, Truman was elected to the presidency in his own right, defeating Thomas Dewey. When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, the U.S. intervened and Truman approved the containment of communism as U.S. policy and increased military spending. In April 1951, Truman relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur as commander-in-chief of the United Nations Command for not respecting the authority of the presidency and replaced him with Gen. Matthew Ridgway.
    Following his presidency, Truman went back to Independence and returned to Fort Leavenworth twice in 1961 and once in 1964 to speak to Command and General Staff College students. He died in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 26, 1972, and was buried at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence.
    “This man of great character, great commitment and certainly extraordinary confidence exemplifies everything that we think about when we aspire to be a leader,” Lundy said. “During an extraordinary war, World War II, when the entire world was engulfed in flames, to have to make the decision on how to end that; to the fight in Korea and having to make very, very tough commander-in-chief decisions, the right kind of decisions that require extraordinary character and mettle of heart; to be able to go and continue to serve quietly, is truly a servant leader.”
    Lundy said inducting Truman into the HOF in the centennial year of the armistice that ended World War I was appropriate because of Truman’s own service.
    “For all of you, as you think today about what this means, what he meant to our nation and what he means to all of us as leaders and what we need to aspire to, reflect on his service, reflect on his commitment, reflect on his character because that is what we are about here as we think about being professionals of arms,” he said. “President Truman certainly exemplifies everything that we should aspire to be.”
    Truman’s oldest grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, accepted the award on his behalf.
    Daniel said Truman dreamed of a military career from childhood.
    “During the Spanish American War, he and some other teenagers formed their own rifle squad and marched back and forth across each other’s backyards,” Daniel said. “He hoped that would get him into West Point. It did not.”
    Daniel said Truman learned important things about himself while fighting in World War I.
    Page 3 of 4 - “He learned he could lead and he learned that he had courage,” he said. “He brought his whole battery through (the war) without casualty.”
    Though Truman did not like the idea of peacetime soldiering after the war, he continued to serve anyway, Daniel said.
    “He enjoyed the camaraderie and interestingly, both he and my grandmother viewed the summer encampments as a vacation from politics,” Daniel said. “He enjoyed the work.”
    In a letter Truman wrote to his wife on July 21, 1923, he explained his decision to go back to peacetime soldiering.
    “‘There is something about it that is not to be explained by reason or common sense any more than why a man loves his wife. We are a bunch of nuts and can’t help it I guess, but we enjoy it, and you can see that I am not the only one affected,’” Daniel quoted.
    Daniel said over the course of their courtship and marriage, his grandparents wrote more than 1,000 letters to each other, often writing two a day when they were apart. The Truman Library currently holds 1,361 of Truman’s letters and 184 of Bess Truman’s letters.
    During his presidency, Daniel said, Truman learned another lesson.
    “At the end of World War I, he was as much for punishing Germany as anybody else, which as you know is what ultimately happened,” Daniel said. “By the time World War II ended, he had learned from that attitude and gave us the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of Europe.
    “Having been among soldiers, having fought, he fitted very significantly in his decision, but his concern for fighting men and women came after World War II in Korea, which he said himself was the most difficult set of decisions that he ever had to make,” he said.
    Daniel said the difficulty became even more apparent to Truman when he received a letter from the father of a soldier who was killed in Korea, blaming Truman for his son’s death. The letter included the son’s Purple Heart.
    After Truman’s death, “in early 1973, when the archivists were going through his office, they found the letter and the Purple Heart in his upper right-hand desk drawer,” Daniel said. “He had kept it there for 20 years to remind him of the terrible cost of sending young men and women into war.”
    Daniel said Truman would be proud of the HOF honor.
    “He would be proud to be in your company,” he said. “He cared a great deal about the military service in this country and about the fighting men and women, and you can do him no greater honor than to include him in this Hall of Fame.”
    Page 4 of 4 - Truman’s shadowbox is now on display in the atrium of the Lewis and Clark Center.
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