(Editor’s note: This is part of a series in The News-Dispatch highlighting the National Park Service sites in Missouri as a part of the National Park Service’s centennial anniversary.)
Harry Truman was a born-and-bred Missourian. You never had to wonder where Truman called home and you never had to wonder where you stood with this man.
But his travels always led back to one place – a place called Missouri.
Truman was born in Lamar on May 8, 1884. The family moved to a farm near Grandview, then in Independence he attended public school and graduated from high school, and finally to Kansas City.
As a young man, Truman served in the Missouri National Guard, and helped organize the 2nd Regiment of the Missouri Field Artillery and served in World War I in France. His leadership skills were tested during the war, and he was promoted to captain and given command of Battery D in the regiment.
During the war he faithfully wrote to the young lady he was courting, Bess Wallace. But after the war, the Missourian headed home to the Show-Me State.
From the time he was a lad Truman was attracted to Bess. And on June 28, 1919, Harry Truman married Bess, and they made their home in Grandview. Their only child, Margaret, was born in 1924.
The home was the Wallace’s home. This is where Harry and Bess lived as newlyweds and it became the Truman home after her mother died. This was where the Trumans would return when they came home during congressional breaks, and it was here the couple returned when their days in Washington were over.
Beautiful in its uncluttered commonness, the home showcases the simple life Harry Bess enjoyed in Missouri before, during and after his presidency. Visitors see the things that made the house a home for Harry, Bess and Margaret.
The home receives visitors from all over the globe.
“We have a large number of visitors from all over the world – from Germany, Russia, Japan,” said Jeff Wade, of the National Park Service, adding that the site receives more than 30,000 visitors each year.
The Park Service does advise that no food, drink or gum is allowed in the home and smoking is not allowed. Photography is not allowed inside the home, either.
The Truman home is just part of the places connected with the former president in the Kansas City region. The Truman Farm is also in Grandview, and south of Kansas City in Lamar is the Truman Birthplace State Historic Site. Independence is home to the Truman Presidential Library.
The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence is one of 13 presidential libraries. Here visitors can learn more about Truman as President and about the nation during those years. The library has a replica of Truman’s White House Oval and a number of interesting exhibits.
Outside at the library are the resting places of both Harry and Bess Truman. President Truman died Dec. 26, 1972; Bess on Oct. 18, 1982. They are buried side-by-side in a peaceful garden.
Each Wednesday at the Presidential Library is “White Glove Wednesday.” This is a chance to “get close” to history and learn more about the rare artifacts in the college. “White Glove Wednesday” is offered from 11-11:30 a.m. each Wednesday, May through September.
Information on the Truman Presidential Library: The Presidential Library is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; on Sunday from 12-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 65 and older, $3 for children ages 6 through 15. Admission charges for all veterans and active service military members will be waived from VE Day though VJ Day.
By Annabeth Miller