Truman Day celebrates the only Missourian to become president | St. Louis Public Radio

Truman Day celebrates the only Missourian to become president

May 9, 2016

If you're surprised to find some courts and state offices in Missouri closed Monday, you might not know about Truman Day — an official state holiday celebrating the president who was raised in Independence, Mo. 

The holiday is observed around Harry S. Truman's May 8th birth date, depending on how it falls on the calendar, according to the Missouri Revised Statutes:

The governor shall issue annually a proclamation setting apart the eighth day of May as "Truman Day" and recommending to the people of the state that the day be appropriately observed in honor of and out of respect for Harry S Truman, the thirty-third president of the United States, a distinguished public servant and the only Missourian ever to be elected to this high office.

Several years ago, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed eliminating the state holiday, among others, as a cost-cutting measure. At the time, he said the paid holiday for state workers costs more than a million dollars in overtime and comp time. However, legislators refused to approve the proposal.

Truman was born in Lamar, Mo., but grew up in Grandview and Independence, and later lived in Kansas City. He served in the Missouri National Guard, and later went on to become one of three judges of the Jackson County Court.

By 1934, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served for 10 years. He contributed to several important pieces of legislation and served as chairman of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.

Truman was nominated to run for vice president alongside President Franklin Roosevelt in 1944, taking office in January 1945. But after Roosevelt died unexpectedly that April, Truman was sworn in as president in the closing days of World War II. He would serve two terms. Truman Day also marks a significant day in his presidency: the day the Allied countries formally accepted Nazi Germany's surrender, also known as Victory in Europe Day. A few months later, Truman would order atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, after which Japan surrendered.

In addition to Monday's holiday, a wreath laying and other birthday events were held Sunday at the Truman Library and Museum, in Independence, where Truman is buried alongside his wife, Bess. The Harry S. Truman Birthplace State Historic Site in Lamar celebrated on Saturday with historic re-enactments, wagon rides, vendors and a fun run, among other activities.