WASHINGTON D.C. (AP) — Former President Harry S. Truman was remembered by Democratic and Republican leaders as one of the most consequential presidents in history during a ceremony Thursday unveiling a statue of Truman in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
Speakers at the ceremony unveiling the 7.5-foot bronze statue of the nation's 33rd president remembered the numerous substantial decisions Truman made, despite being vice president for only 82 days before President Franklin Roosevelt died in April 1945.
Truman, who was born and reared in Missouri, helped end World War II, created the United Nations and NATO, desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces and federal workforce, recognized Israel and helped lead the world's response to the Soviet Union and Communism.
The statue, sculpted by Tom Corbin of Kansas City, looks like Truman, wearing a double-breasted jacket, is walking down steps. It includes a phrase Truman is famous for — “The buck stops here.”
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, said "no president in such a short period of time made more consequential decisions then Harry Truman.
“If you've ever been in a job where you made decisions, just imagine the decisions he had to make and how quickly he had to make them and how well he made them,” Blunt said.
Truman's grandson, Clifton Truman Daniels, said of all of his grandfather's accomplishments, his most significant “was reminding us that a farmer, a citizen solider, a small businessman can rise to the highest office in this land and do a better job of it than almost anybody else.”
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri, said Truman rose from being a farmer, a soldier, small businessman, county judge, and U.S. senator before becoming president. Cleaver, who is Black, praised Truman's decision to integrate the armed forces and the government work force, saying it helped create a middle class for Black people.
“From this day forward may Harry Truman's statue serve as a reminder of his courage, and courage we need to have to take on projects that will help build this nation,” Cleaver said. “For my congressional colleagues and I, we too should accept the responsibility, as did Truman, and declare ‘The buck stops here.’”
Truman's statue will be the 10th presidential statue in the Capitol Rotunda, flanked by George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.
The Truman Library Institute led a campaign to raise more than $400,000 to fund the statue. Each state has two statues in the Rotunda to honor people notable in the state's history.
In 2019, the Missouri Legislature voted to install Truman's statue to replace a 1899 statue of Thomas Hart Benton, a five-term U.S. senator from Missouri. Benton's statue will be moved to the State Historical Society Art Gallery in Columbia, Missouri.