Monday, November 3, 2014

Harry Truman's Voting Advice

Go to the polls tomorrow and vote your convictions
 -- your hopes -- and your faith in the future.
 If you do that, under God, we can lead the world to freedom and security.
Harry Truman
November 1, 1948

These are words that Harry Truman wrote for his last speech of the 1948 campaign. Truman prepared his remarks for a radio speech to be given on the night before the election. Campaigning was done and he had returned home to Independence, Missouri.

His handwritten notes were transcribed, the speech typed up, and the president must have tossed the notes into a wastebasket. A White House reporter retrieved the notes and, after some years, Harry Truman's discarded speech has ended up at the Truman Library.

I happened upon Mr. Truman's speech when I was doing some reading on the Truman Library's website. I was born in February of 1948, so I would have been almost nine months old at the time of the election. My mom and dad lived in Appleton, Wisconsin where my Dad was serving three small churches and finishing his undergraduate degree at Oshkosh. I have always been interested in the events of 1948, the year of my birth.

My parents, born in the 1920's on dairy farms in eastern Wisconsin, had already experienced the Great Depression and World War II. My older sister came along in 1946 followed by me in 1948. We were born touching the post war years -- baby boomers, we would come to be called -- to parents who knew only FDR as president for most of their years as teenagers and twentysomes.

Truman's election in 1948 was pivotal. His administration would carry out the integration of the armed forces. He would keep the social contract that FDR and many others forged to bring the country out of economic disaster. It is Truman's presidency that spanned the years when manufacturing turned from warplanes and tanks, to cars and refrigerators.

But on that election eve in 1948, Harry Truman's words rang with commitment. In his handwriting, you can even glean a bit of nostalgia, maybe even homesickness, as he arrived home and gave that final speech. Thomas Dewey was seen as the favorite. Harry Truman had come home to vote.

His discarded words, retrieved from history's wastebasket, stand for tomorrow's election. Vote your convictions, your hopes, your faith. Things will work out.

It's good advice.

Today's blog post is a repeat of a blog post from November 5, 2012, before the last Presidential Election. wje

No comments:

Post a Comment