Published on November 30th, 2017 | by Rick Robison




One of the most important presidents in our nation’s history, one who was thrust into our collective past unwillingly, but with a courage unique in most leaders, was Harry S. Truman. Truman was not your typical president. And while as president he had some of the most difficult decisions to make, I believe he is even more impressive when we look at what he did after leaving office.

When he retired from presidential service he owned practically nothing. He had a family home back in Missouri, where he and his wife, Bess, lived out the remainder of his life. In fact, that modest house was the only asset he had when he died. It was originally his wife’s parents’ house, located in Independence, Missouri.

He had no presidential pension, though survived on an army pension of $13,500 dollars per year. Congress found out that he was struggling financially, even reportedly doing his own taxes, his own bills, and licking his own stamps, so Congress provided Bess and him a presidential pension of $25,000 dollars per year.

When leaving the White House, Bess and he drove home to Missouri alone, without any Secret Service protection. Then when offered high-level corporate positions in the private sector, former President Truman simply said “No, you don’t want me. You want the Office of the President, and that no longer belongs to me. It belongs to the American people and that’s not for sale.”

Later, on his 87th birthday, Congress wanted to award him the civilian Medal of Honor. He refused, stating that “I’ve not done anything that should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”


While president, Harry Truman always insisted on paying his own expenses for travel and for food. He patently refused to be a burden on the American people, or to the Secret Service assigned to him. He reportedly once stated: “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whorehouse, or a politician. And to tell you the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

Gotta love it!

Today our politicians always seem to find ways to cash in on their national political service. Speaking of musicians in a whorehouse, Bill Clinton has made millions speaking to groups all over the world, as has Hillary (though not so much now since seeing the Clinton Legacy go down in flames with the recent election failures and subsequent scandals).

Many in Congress have found multiple ways to get rich while still in office, even though as congressmen and women they enjoy a plethora of bennies and perks, including full retirement and their own, heavily subsidized, healthcare system which the American people can only dream of having.

It seems, with many of the scandals of recent years, that too often what should be a volunteer opportunity to serve our country and represent the American people, has become the fast track to wealth and power. Witness the political dynasties that have milked the American people through national office, which include congress men and women, senators, and of course, some presidents and presidential contenders.

Once, long ago, our Founders envisioned the “citizen politician” who would RELUCTANTLY accept national office, go to Washington, D.C. for a limited term, serve with little remuneration, and then return home to be once more gainfully employed. Sadly, that’s no longer the rule, but the very rare exception, it seems.

While Harry Truman was a Democrat, and I’m certainly not, I can’t help admire the man, and the age, when men and women understood what it meant to be honorable, and who actually knew the difference between right and wrong.

Will America ever return to that time, both Democrats AND Republicans, to the essentially conservative, self-sacrificing morality of the past? I look around today and am less than confident.


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About the Author

I have a standing rule to live by…a liberty to follow my own will in all things…and never subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man—Life, liberty, and property.

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