Kissed by a President

Trumanby Anniel  10/15/14
The California Zephyr, Vistadome cars and all, came through our town on a whistle-stop tour when I was about 7. “Give em Hell Harry” was on board. My dad worked for the railroad so we got to go on the President’s car with the dignitaries and have a few minutes with Harry S. Truman himself. I was the only child there. He thought my curls were cute and pulled me into his arms for a big hug and kiss on the cheek. My father was elated, I was embarrassed by the laughter and the crowd, but I sure knew who Harry Truman was.

I was just a very young child when I started crawling under the kitchen table and listening to my dad and his friends discuss politics. I cut my teeth on the death of Saint FDR, the presidency of Harry Truman, the Atom Bombs, the final end of WWII, and the Democrat party while sitting under that table. Union activities were also a big part of the discussions.

My father was a very patriotic American, a staunch Democrat, and a union man who hated the union bosses because of the strikes and violence he saw. That was strange to me. How could you follow an organization whose leaders were corrupt?

Daddy was a Suomilainen, a Finn who hated Communism with a passion. He told me as far back as 1950 to stay away from any form of socialism, especially in Medicine. He always felt that control of the government by communists would begin with Health Care. Others must have thought the same.

I think my father assumed that all “working stiffs” were Democrats, and all “rich” people were Republicans. I know he believed that Democrat policies would always be to help the working man and the poor. He also thought all politicians were crooks. Another conundrum for my listening ears to figure out.

My father was an ancient man of 48 when I left home, so I don’t know too much of the politics he followed after that. I do know he didn’t like the direction the country was headed, but he was probably still a yellow dog Democrat.”

How is it that people like you and me begin to form our own opinions on what is good for the country? How are conservatives made? How are liberals shaped? Today’s liberals/Democrats seem so blind and propagandized it’s difficult to understand how they got that way. Some begin turning away from liberal philosophy because of a specific event or policy they don’t like, but they are so few.

Along with the book Witness, one thing that kept me from leaning left was reading William F. Buckley, Jr.’s book, God and Man At Yale. I was young, but it had a big influence on my thinking, and I fell in love with Mr. Buckley.

School then had a strong pull on us. We began our days with the Pledge of Allegiance, although I don’t remember any school prayer. I had a great High School history teacher who was big on the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence was revered. We read it in English classes, and memorized the Gettysburg Address. We often sang all verses of The Star Spangled Banner at school assemblies and on national holidays. We were taught to love our country and its traditions.

Thinking about this love of freedom and country, makes me remember a family story my father’s father told me of one of his own grandfathers who was captured by Russian soldiers during one of the Tsar’s interminable war excursions into Finland. The grandfather was sent as a prisoner to Siberia, where he soon escaped and walked all the way across Russia, almost to the Finnish border, where, alas, he was recaptured and sent back to Siberia. Grandpa said his grandfather escaped again and that time made the whole journey home to Finland and freedom. Fortitude seems to have been his strong suit, and he possessed his share of sisu.

When I told the story to my own children they questioned whether it was true. All I could tell them was that I loved and trusted my wonderful grandfather and passed the story on to them to show how strong and freedom loving their ancestors had been.

In order to turn the hearts and minds of our children to their fathers, we need to remember their and our own stories and pass them on to our children and grandchildren. Perhaps it is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen and support them while they are young.

Be proud of who you are. Let your children know your life, even the bad parts. Maybe some day, in a time of need, they’ll remember their heritage in a land of liberty..

I think my children and grandchildren need to know I was kissed by a good man who was President of the United States of America. • (693 views)

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2 Responses to Kissed by a President

  1. GHG says:

    Annie, that was beautiful. And true. And relevant.

    Emotion welled up inside me when I read your recollection of when you were in school. It’s funny how words on a computer screen can evoke that physiological reaction, but then they’re not just pixels, they represent memories of our shared experiences when belief in God and love of country was the very fabric of our life. Families were where nurturing and training of the next generation started and continued through adolescence and early adulthood. Life was ordered – God, country, family, self. America was the land of opportunity and if you worked hard you could be anything you wanted to be. America wasn’t perfect, there were things done that shouldn’t have been done, but it was the best there’s ever been and that belief was shared by all.

    Somehow that has changed. Normal Rockwell painted real life in America and when I look at his work I’m reminded of my youth but I can’t help but think younger generations look at them and think parody. Innocence lost is never regained. I’m reminded of when Jesus saw Jerusalem and wept over it. Surely he weeps for America now.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    An interesting tale, I was a lot slower to become really aware of what was going on, as far as I can recall. (I really started to pay significant attention to politics in 1964., at the age of 12.) My school teaching was very similar (this was normal for the times, as it was for you.) As for becoming what I am today politically, this began when I read Atlas Shrugged in late 1972, and has continued from there.

    As for meeting politicians when young, the closest I came to that was when LBJ met with the family after my father’s death in Vietnam (1966). I had already read Haley’s A Texan Looks at Lyndon, and chose not to go — a decision I’ve never regretted.

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