Truman Day is a state holiday in Missouri every May 8th, which is President Truman’s birthday. For Missouri state employees it is a paid day off.
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Harry S. Truman, the 33rd U.S. president, was born in Lamar, Missouri, on May 8th, 1884, and is the only U.S. president to be born and raised in that state. A member of the Democratic Party, His political career began as a district court judge in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1921.
In 1934, he became one of Missouri’s U.S. senators and was reelected to that post in 1940. While in the Senate, he headed up “the Truman Committee,” which helped identify areas of waste in the military budget.
In 1944, Truman ran and won as Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate, and after only 82 days as Vice President, Roosevelt died of a stroke and left him President of the United States. He served out most of Roosevelt’s fourth term and was reelected in 1948, so that he served as President from 1945 through 1953.
Truman was President during the last days of World War II, made the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and saw the beginning of Cold War tensions, including the Korean War, the founding of NATO, and the Chinese-Taiwanese conflict. After his time as President, he retired to Independence, Missouri, and when he passed away on December 26th, 1972, his funeral and burial were in his own presidential library, which he himself had founded.
Things to do in Missouri on Truman Day include:
- Attend the wreath-laying ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, located off US-24 in Independence, Missouri. You can watch documentary films of his life, see his post-presidency office, eat a piece of “Truman birthday cake,” peruse the museum’s Truman photos and “relics,” and pay your respects at his and his wife’s grave site.
- Attend any of the numerous Truman legacy events put on by the Democratic Party. These are often fundraisers, however, so non-Democrats might feel awkward, although they could still learn much about Truman’s life.
- Visit the Harry S. Truman Birthplace State Historic Site, the very house where Truman was born and lived his earliest years, in Lamar, Missouri. You can see the spot where he was born in the lower-level southwest bedroom.
While Truman Day events are limited and scattered, there are enough of them to fill a full day or more on the tourist’s schedule, and the experience will certainly be very educational.