President Harry S. Truman was born on May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri.
In this area of the state, people remember when Harry Truman came to campaign for Congressman Ralph Harding. I heard Ralph tell the story, a story I'd heard many times before, at the annual Truman Day Banquet in Idaho Falls Friday night. As former Congressman Harding was telling the story of Truman's visit, my historical sense had failed me and I had forgotten that Truman had only been vice president for a few months prior to the death of FDR and his rise to the highest office in the land.
My love for Harry S. Truman coincides with my love for Cold War history. He was the beginning of it all, just as Reagan was the end of it all. And his philosophy that there is "nothing new in the world except for the history you do not know," is a motivation and driving force in my academic life. Truman Day means nearly as much to me as Independence Day.
Today as I finished up an enormous task, that of a research paper about former Congressman Richard Stallings, I found myself thinking often about the definition of statesman. How fitting that I would be contemplating the difference between a statesman and politician today on Truman's birthday.
Just as quickly as Truman's definition of "statesman" came to mind, I realized maybe I should have taken his advice a semester ago when I engulfed myself in the Stallings project--"Study men, not historians."
"I’m proud that I’m a politician. A politician is a man who understands
government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a
politician who’s been dead 10 or 15 years."