Truman Day

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President Harry S Truman
(Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration [NARA] Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S Truman Library)
When people ask me what my husband does for a living, I’m always met with the strangest responses. I’ve heard things like, “Do you and your husband live together?” “How can he work here if he works for another state?” or “Does he work in New York or the other state?” You see, for the past 31 years, my husband has worked as a tax auditor for the state of Missouri. Yes, Missouri.

When he was in his final semester of college, the Missouri Department of Revenue came to campus to hire auditors for their field office on Long Island. Hubby and several of his classmates were interviewed and subsequently hired for the field office. It was an exciting time, not only because graduation loomed on the horizon, but these students had a job, right out of college. It really was a wonderful turn of events, in hindsight. We’ve also made wonderful friends for life from this moment in time.

The job required auditors to check tax returns of corporations who did business in the state of Missouri. This included many well-known companies with which many were quite familiar. Hubby and his co-workers were required to travel to the headquarters of some of these corporations, which often meant that they were away from home for several days at a time. The pay-off was that they were compensated with time off for their travel time. They also got to visit places in their down-time that they normally wouldn’t, such as Durgin-Park in downtown Boston.

One sunny May morning, my husband told me that he’d gotten the day off with pay. It was just before Mother’s Day, which meant we would have a day together to search for plants for our moms. When I’d asked him if he’d taken vacation time, he smiled. “Nope,” he offered with a grin, “It’s Truman Day.”

For those of us who don’t live in Missouri, here’s a basic primer on Truman Day. The commemorative holiday is celebrated on May 8, which is the birth date of our 33rd President of the United States: Harry S Truman. Harry Truman was the only president who hailed from Missouri, which is the reason for the celebration. It’s a paid holiday, and most folks from Missouri are proud to celebrate it. If May 8 falls on a weekend, the holiday is celebrated on the nearest weekday. The financial crisis of 2008 to 2010 almost saw the abolition of the holiday by state government, but this move was unsuccessful. Most red-blooded Missourians love their Harry. For the record, for some unknown reason, people from Missouri were called “Pukes” in the 1800s, and the state was known as “The Puke State.” Really, folks, I can’t make this up. Ask Google, Siri, or Alexa. I’m still recovering from that bit of trivia.

The legacy of Harry Truman began on May 8, 1884 near Independence, MO. Harry grew up on his family’s farm in Lamar. He served in France during the first World War as an artillery officer. When he returned stateside, he joined the Democratic Party. In 1922, he was elected to public office as a county official. In 1934, he became a U.S. Senator for the state, for which he served 10 years.
In 1945, Harry Truman became the vice president to Franklin D. Roosevelt. That April, he became president after FDR passed away. As president during the final months of World War II, one of his decisions was to drop the atomic bomb on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was elected to another term in office in 1948 but was defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.

Harry Truman was a man of words. Credited with over seventy famous quotes, his most famous by far would most likely be, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Another favorite is, “If that’s art, I’m a Hottentot!” Or even better might be, “Study men, not historians.”
As a note of interest, Harry Truman’s parents couldn’t decide on a middle name for their infant son, so they gave him the middle initial “S”. It doesn’t stand for anything, but it does pay tribute to several family members whose names begin with the same letter.

This year, May 8 fell on a Friday. This thrilled my husband, who loves a three-day weekend as much as anyone. Although we didn’t make our yearly pilgrimage to Hick’s Nursery or Home Depot for several flats of impatiens and petunias, we did manage to score a good deal on a printer for home use, which will serve him well as he works from home for the foreseeable future during the ongoing crisis. I remember well this quote of Harry’s, which is perfect for our current clime: “We must have strong minds, ready to accept facts as they are.” And so it is. Happy Birthday, Harry.

Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.

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