The drive to Independence was fun. Missouri got to “show me” much of their state on that day. I regretted my health wasn’t better during that trip so we could have stopped in Fulton, Missouri and seen a museum dedicated to another one of my boyhood heroes, Brother Winston Churchill.
In 1946 Churchill visited the tiny little Westminster college in Fulton after being invited to speak there by the college’s president and Harry Truman. It was in this speech Churchill first used the term “Iron curtain” when referring to the Soviet Union and the other countries which made up the Eastern block. The college has a small museum dedicated to Churchill and that historic day. I would have also liked to have visited the graves of Ray and William Denslow.
After checking into our hotel (and eating more barbecue) the next morning we traveled west to the Harry S Truman Presidential library.
This was my second visit to the library. When I was in high school we visited the library on the way to Kansas City to attend the National FFA convention in 1982. At that time I was young and although I was a lover of history when I was 16, the trip, while interesting, didn’t have the impact on me at the time that it’s memory had on me as I learned about the man throughout my life, reading such books as "Truman" by David McCullough and "Brother Truman" by Allen Roberts.
The library has lots of wonderful exhibits. From his birth through his life and presidency all the way through his later years. We really enjoyed the many multimedia exhibits that I’m sure wasn’t there during the early eighties.
After our visit (and even more barbecue), we decided to drive by Harry and Bess' home which is near the library. I wanted to tour the house but, much like in Fulton, my health wouldn’t allow it then. We were surprised how “normal” the house was. Just a common home for a common man who just happened to become president of the United States.
It’s interesting to note Harry was never the actual owner of the house. The white Victorian home was owned by his wife Bess' family, (Bess' father, David W. Wallace was once Grand Commander of Knights Templar in Missouri).
Politically Harry and I couldn’t be more different. But I can admire a man who came from nothing and kept working until he became the most powerful man in the world. All the while, speaking his mind and standing by the principals he believed in. And doing so leaving us many powerful (and some very funny) stories to remember him by.
Now that I have read my friend and Brother (and most importantly fellow Hoosier) Steve Harrison’s book “Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi”, I have realized there is so much more for the “Show me state” to show me!
Luckily Brother Harrison has just released a new book entitled Masonic Memoranda of Frederick L. Billon. Billon was a pioneer in Missouri in the 1800’s and kept a Masonic journal about what happened within the Craft in a time where much of the Fraternity’s history has been lost or destroyed. This should be an interesting read.
From Brother Mark Twain, Harry Truman to Frank Land and many other famous Masons, some world famous and others who are famous only to Masons that called Missouri home (including the first grand master of my mother Grand lodge, Alexander Buckner), I plan on visiting the state again! I hope you will consider visiting it too!