September 16, 2016 – Rain, 75 degrees
Miles Today: 66
Miles to Date: 16,376
States to Date: 44
I woke to the threat of rain and pedaled with determination to Independence, motivated by the darkening skies and Harry S. Truman’s straightforward nature. Presidential Library #8 along my tour. Growing up, my father loved Truman’s no nonsense style, so I’ve always viewed him as a sort of hero. But he’s a complicated hero: a repeated failure in business; politically tied to patronage; a strategic rather than qualified choice for FDR’s fourth term running mate despite the near certain knowledge that this VP would ascend to the top spot.
Truman proved to be more decisive than anyone anticipated. He dropped the bomb on Japan, integrated the armed forces, solidified the Cold War, put us in Korea yet fired Marshall when the popular general wanted to invade China as well. He lived his motto: The buck stops here.
One quote near the end of the museum sequence reinforced how much Truman created the world we inhabit today. “America in 1952 was a nation at the peak of its economic and military power. Yet paradoxically, this America of confidence, prosperity and military strength was also haunted by uncertainties, frustrations and a sense of vulnerability. Power and insecurity, plenty and want, generosity and prejudice – America in 1952 embodied all of these contradictions.” As they do in 2016.
The rain was steady by the time I left Harry’s place. Still, I stopped at the Community of Christ Temple because it cut such a distinctive profile on the skyline. Turns out to be creation of a splinter group of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints who stress Joseph Smith’s early teachings and collective peace. The theology did not grab me, but the grandeur of the building and its dedication to world peace drew me in.
The sky lightened and I sang Muddy Waters as I pedaled west, even if the lyrics are not quite right for me:
I‘m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.
I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.
They got some crazy little women there
And I’m gonna get me one.