Lack of formal education didn’t stop Harry Truman

Published 7:30 am Saturday, January 8, 2022

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Did you know that our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman, was the only 20th-century president who did not have a college degree?

However, at one time in his life, he enrolled for two years in a law school but had to drop out because he was too busy.

In view of that, you might conclude he was rather dull and not as intelligent that you would expect. Think again. He was eight when he started school. By the time he was fourteen, he had read every book of interest to boys in his hometown library. By that age also, he had read through the family Bible three times.

He passed the academic examination to attend West Point. It must have been a real blow when he failed the physical because of his eyesight. It has been said that he memorized an eye chart so he would pass the Army physical when he joined the service during World War I.

Another story claimed during a stopover on his way to duty in France, he bought three pairs of glasses so he could always have a spare if the need arose.

What an interesting fellow he was. I uncovered things about him while researching through several books, encyclopedias, and the Internet. I found another first for him as our president. He and his future wife, Bess, met at elementary school, or some said Sunday school. They were the only president and first lady to graduate from the same high school at the same time.

Were you aware that he and an army buddy set up a haberdashery business? After several years they declared bankruptcy. It took a long time, but both the men repaid their debt.

President Truman made several extremely important decisions during his term of office: to drop the atomic bomb on Japan; fired the popular General Douglas MacArthur for disobeying his orders and gave the order to desegregate the military services.

A flurry of controversy arose when he proposed adding a balcony to the second floor of the White House. He won the fight and later experts determined that the addition made the building more architecturally correct.

President Truman surprised the “so-called” experts, the press, his mother-in-law, and most in his party, by winning the 1948 presidential election against Thomas Dewey. The morning after the election, photographers had a heyday firing their flashbulbs at the president’s big grin as he held up a newspaper declaring his opponent as the victor.

The middle initial S of his name stands for nothing. Because of that, some people argue that it does not have to be followed by punctuation.

If this column stirred your interest about our 33rd president, you might want to research him. Today there are so many sources of information that will keep you turning pages or looking at your computer screen to find out more about this historic and fascinating statesman.