Letter to the Editor

Some president's legacies improve with time

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dear Editor:

Forty-two years ago this week, on the day after Christmas, former President Harry S. Truman died in Kansas City at age 88. His death recalls one of the biggest comeback stories of a former president, from being ranked as one of the worst U.S. presidents to being ranked as one of the best.

When Truman left office in 1953, his approval ratings were as dismal as any that Nixon, Carter, or George W. Bush endured during their final days in the presidency. But by the time he died nearly 20 years later, historians, political scientists, the media, and the general public had taken a second look at the man from Independence (via Lamar).

What the historians noted is that Truman probably kept World War II from going on forever with his decision to drop the atom bomb on Japan; he probably prevented World War III by standing up to the Russians in Berlin and to the Chinese in Korea. He also, with the stroke of a pen, launched the Civil Rights movement with his desegregation of the Armed Forces.

This just shows how an unpopular president can get a second look and people can say, "Wow, he was right all along." This has happened to Gerald R. Ford, too, and I feel it will happen to President Obama some years down the road.

In any case, we native Missourians should be proud of Truman and his accomplishments during his eight controversial years in the White House.


David Shipp

Castro Valley Calif.