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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



A little over fifteen years ago a young man was born into the family and naming him was pretty easy. You see, he was going to be a Max no matter when he came into the order of the family and because his dad wanted to end the long streak of the terrible middle name of Marvin (no offense intended to any of you named Marvin so don’t send me nasty emails) he was given the middle name of Truman. I had intended to take him to Kansas City when he was old enough to visit the Truman Library so he could understand where his middle name came from.

Since he has reached the age where he is able to pretend that he is interested in things I show him we took a trip south along with his oldest sister this last weekend. I hadn’t been to the Truman library in probably twenty years and to be honest my memory of it was a little fuzzy but we set off in search of a day of fun and adventure. I didn’t really mind the quick three hour drive to Kansas City, although I could have done without the blinding monsoon that we drove through just north of Liberty, Missouri. I was waiting for some complaint from the children about leaving Adel at 6:30 in the morning, but knowing that our first stop would be the Waffle House for breakfast there wasn’t a peep to be heard.

Waffle House hasn’t changed a bit and was quite busy for ten o’clock in the morning, but it is one of those places where you know exactly what you are getting when you order and that hash browns are a staple. We left the Waffle House and headed to Independence, taking a little time to drive up to the Truman home which is in a pretty fancy neighborhood that resembles the Sherman Hill district in Des Moines only to a larger scale. We soon headed back north a few blocks and drove into the parking lot of the Library.

Max had brought his photo ID with him, because he was sure that he would get a discount since his middle name was Truman and he did, but I would guess mostly because he was a student, but the young lady at the counter was nice enough to play along with us. The library has really changed in the years since I was first there, with new exhibits and many interactive displays, but then again the Truman Library has always been a place to visit. After you pass through the main entrance, the first place to visit is the replica of the old oval office as it was when Truman was president. A highlight in this room is a very large globe that was given as a gift to Truman after he admired it on a visit to then General Eisenhower. A little known story about the globe is that after Eisenhower became president, he and Truman had a falling out and Truman had the globe returned to Eisenhower. The ongoing feud between the two lasted until the funeral of President Kennedy and before the Truman library opened Ike had it sent there as an olive branch.

The rest of the museum is filled with interesting mementos and displays that tell the story of Truman. For those who are wondering, Dexter is featured in a couple of different places. The twenty minute introductory film features Dexter and the National Plowing Match prominently in conversation of Truman’s whistle stop tour of 1948. In the museum itself, there is a place where you can listen to a recording of his speech that day. Much of the museum basement dealt with the renovations of the White House and included many unique items that came out of the building including the Roosevelt (Teddy not Franklin) mantle that was removed when the state room was redone.

In a quiet courtyard rest the President and Mrs. Truman, and across the walkway from their gravesite daughter Margaret and her husband. At this point there was some confusion from me as there has been a few changes since my last visit and I kept telling the kids that I thought there was a place where you looked in on Truman’s office. We found the doorway leading to it and found it, behind a glass wall, the office that Truman used after the library was completed and where he held council and greeting visitors from the famous to schoolchildren. His office, lined with bookshelves and photos, was left just as it was the last time he used it which we also found interesting.

We left the library after the obligatory photo of Max with the statue of Truman near the courtyard and headed out between thunderstorms to make our way downtown to the National World War I museum. It is a fascinating place filled with items that bring the conflict of the Great War alive to its visitors. Entering the museum on a glass walkway that hangs over a diorama of a battlefield covered in blooming poppies, one gets a feeling quickly that this isn’t the kind of museum that presents its story in a neat tidy box, but rather sets the visitor with a good understanding of the conditions at the time. Because it was Memorial Day weekend the place was absolutely packed and I honestly feel that I need to return sometime when I could take more time to look around without worrying about bumping into someone. We ended the day with a stop at Steak N Shake, another restaurant that is sorely needed in the Des Moines area. Day trips with the kids are always nice, and I think we all used it as a good warm up for the summer vacation that is to come in July. I’ve always felt it fortunate that I have kids who really tend to like museums and can tolerate history and my interest in it. If you are looking for a good day trip, or maybe a weekend away a trip south is well worth it, but maybe next time I’d let us all sleep in just a little bit longer. See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.