“CHARACTER ABOVE ALL,” BY ROBERT A. WILSON

When asked by reporters which President they liked working for the most the staff at the White House, some who have been working there over fifty years, said almost to a person, Harry Truman. And why was that, because President Truman knew every staff member by name, asked about their families, and took a personal interest in their welfare.

He complained about them playing, “Hail to the Chief,” everywhere he went. He understood that he was no better than anyone else. After taking over as President after the great FDR’s death, he turned to Eisenhower, who was one of his advisers and said, “In 1948 you should run for President and I will be your Vice President.”

President Truman grew up on a farm his father owned and every morning, despite the weather they got up at 5:30 am and went to work. His father and mother stressed that the work he did at the farm was no more important than what the employees who worked for his father did, or for that matter the work his father did.

He is the only modern President not to attend college; yet he was an avid reader of history. At the age of 37 he joined the army and fought in major battles during the end of World War I. He should never have been accepted into the army, his eyesight was terrible, but he memorized the eye chart before he took the exam.

As President, he surrounded himself with some of the greatest Chief of Staffs, Secretaries of State and Defense. He knew that if he was to succeed he needed great men around him. He was the most loyal of all men, even when it was not a politically popular choice.

Today, he is considered by most historians as one of the three greatest Presidents of the 20th century… Alongside FDR and President Teddy Roosevelt. He brought an end to World War II, his administration recognized Israel at a time when it was not a popular choice. He put into motion the Marshal plan that helped save Europe from Starvation after the war. He helped put together NATO, and encouraged work with the United Nations. He desegregated the military.

President Truman, as much as anybody, in this wonderful collection of articles written by ten famous historians on the ten Presidents from FDR to George Bush is the definition of CHARACTER.

“Character Above All,” follows the pattern that I laid out for President Truman written by the great David McCullough. Each article starts out telling the reader something about the way they grew up, where one could argue ‘character’ is first developed and continues on through their Presidencies.

My favorites, besides the one on Truman, were the ones on Presidents FDR, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Gerald Ford. My least favorite was the one about George H.W. Bush.1243300

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