Hanukkah at the White House
Among the gifts from heads of state that are in the holdings of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum is a menorah presented to President Truman by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The menorah dates back to at least 1767, when it was donated to a synagogue in Buergel, Germany.
The menorah was used in the synagogue until 1913, when it was found broken in pieces. A man by the name of Siegfried Guggenheim asked for the broken pieces and provided a replacement. The Guggenheim family restored the old menorah for their personal use, and brought it to the United States when they immigrated in the 1930s. Eventually, the menorah was acquired by the Jewish Museum in New York.
When Prime Minister Ben-Gurion visited the United States in 1951, he searched for a suitable gift to give to Harry S. Truman in light of the President’s recognition and support of the State of Israel. The Jewish Museum suggested the menorah, and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion presented it to Truman on his birthday, May 8, 1951. Read More
Photos: Menorah presented to Harry S. Truman by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Ambassador to the U.S. Abba Eban, of Isreal on May 8, 1951. The menorah is currently on Display at the Truman Library.
Truman Announces the Surrender of Japan
Today in history, August 14, 1945, President Truman announced the surrender of Japan, ending World War II.
The photos here show reporters running through the White House after hearing the President’s announcement.
Reporters running through the White House upon hearing the news; Reporters grabbing White House press releases about the surrender. 8/14/45.
-from the Truman Library
"We have now gained a truce in Korea. We do not greet it with wild rejoicing. We know how dear its cost has been in life and treasure."
-President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Photo: A grief stricken American infantryman whose buddy has been killed in action is comforted by another soldier. In the background a corpsman methodically fills out casualty tags, Haktong-ni area, Korea. 8/28/50.
The Origins of the Korean War from the Truman Library
President Harry S. Truman at Everglades National Park Dedication
Any plans to visit a National Park on your summer vacation? Here’s President Harry S. Truman (at podium) speaking at the dedication of Everglades National Park in Florida, while on vacation in Key West.
Also present and visible behind the President are (from left to right): John Steelman, Clark Clifford, Admiral William D. Leahy, Stanley Woodward, and Major General Harry Vaughan. 12/6/47.
-from the Truman Library
Hiroshima in Ruins
On August 6, 1945 the Enola Gay released the atomic bomb “Little Boy” over Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb leveled the city and left between 70,000 to 100,000 dead. A second bomb, “Fat Man,” was dropped three days later on the city of Nagasaki, killing another 50,000 to 70,000 people. On August 14, the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II.
On August 15, 1945, President Truman requested that the United States Strategic Bombing Survey conduct a study of the effects of the atomic bombs against Japan. The Survey examined confiscated records of the Japanese government and interrogated numerous Government officials and private citizens throughout Japan. The Survey concluded “..that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
Some historians have used these findings to argue against the decision to use the bombs against Japan. Others point out that the Survey had access to information unavailable before the war’s conclusion and that those conducting the survey purposefully downplayed the importance of the atomic bombs in securing Japan’s surrender. The debate continues today, confirming President Truman’s decision over 60 years ago as one of the most controversial decisions of the 20th century.
LBJ Signs the Medicare Bill
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law. The event took place at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and LBJ told the nation that Medicare “all started with the man from Independence.”
Truman was the first president to publicly endorse a national health insurance program.
As a Senator, Truman had become alarmed at the number of draftees who had failed their induction physicals during World War II. For Truman these rejections meant that the average citizen could not afford visiting a doctor to maintain health. He stated “that is all wrong in my book. I am trying to fix it so the people in the middle-income bracket can live as long as the very rich and the very poor.”
Truman’s first proposal in 1945 provided for physician and hospital insurance for working-aged Americans and their families. A federal health board was to administer the program with the government retaining the right to fix fees for service, and doctors could choose whether or not to participate. This proposal was defeated after, among many factors, the American Medical Association labeled the president’s plan “socialized medicine” taking advantage of the public’s concern over communism in Russia.
Even though he was never able to create a national health care program, Truman was able to draw attention to the country’s health needs, have funds legislated to construct hospitals, expand medical aid to the needy, and provide for expanded medical research.
In honor of his continued advocacy for national health insurance, LBJ presented Truman and his wife Bess with Medicare cards number one and two in 1966.
Image: Harry S. Truman’s Medicare Card #1.
Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes hands with former President Harry S. Truman at the signing of the Medicare Bill. LBJ Library #34897-14.
“…it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense..”
Executive Order 9981, July 26, 1948, in which President Harry S. Truman bans the segregation of the Armed Forces
As one of several actions taken to meet the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Civil Rights, President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order on July 26, 1948, abolishing segregation in the armed forces and ordering full integration of all the services. Executive Order 9981 stated that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” The order also established an advisory committee to examine the rules, practices, and procedures of the armed services and recommend ways to make desegregation a reality. There was considerable resistance to the executive order from the military, but by the end of the Korean conflict, almost all the military was integrated.
via Our Documents
Desegregation of the Armed Forces
Sixty-five years ago today, President Harry S. Truman issued his Executive Order that desegregated the armed forces and called for equality of treatment and opportunity for all.
Twenty years after the issuance of the Order, in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson sent this note to former President Truman, honoring that anniversary and Truman’s historic action.
-from the Truman Library