Tag Archives: Harry Truman

Video: President Truman on the Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations

A film about a speech by Harry Truman at the United Nations during 1950. See the video on YouTube.

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Video: President Truman Calls on the World to Arm for Peace

A short film featuring a speech by President Harry Truman during the Cold War. See the video on YouTube.

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Today in history: Truman calls Americans to save Europe from hunger

It was on September 25, 1947 when President Harry Truman held a news conference at the White House about a “critical situation calling for immediate action by every American.” A severe hunger crisis had emerged following a summer of severe drought in Europe and also at home.

At the news conference, Truman discussed a report he received from the Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs, which had been monitoring food supplies. Truman read,

The Committee states that adverse crop developments, including those of recent weeks, both in North America and in Europe, make apparent a food shortage even worse than a year ago. The losses from heavy frosts in northwestern Europe last winter have been increased by a general European drought this spring and summer. Any significant cut in the already low rations in those countries will have most serious consequences for their rehabilitation.”

At this time in history, nations in Europe were trying to recover from World War II. While the fighting had stopped, hunger proliferated after the war. Humanitarian aid from America was crucial for keeping Europe afloat until they could rebuild.

Truman announced a Citizen’s Food Committee on this day, which would encourage Americans to conserve more food. In addition, the food report set in a motion a chain of events which culminated in the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.

An interim food aid package was signed in December and that preceded the Marshall Plan. In addition, an outpouring of donations from Americans gave European numerous food packages during the coming winter months.

Secretary of State George Marshall, who crafted the Marshall Plan, was a member of the Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs. Both Marshall and Truman would make speeches that fall emphasizing the need for food as the basis of reconstruction and peace. That message must not be lost with today’s leadership as they seek to build peace and stability in suffering parts of the globe.

Read the article at Examiner.

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A Historic TV speech in the Fight Against Hunger

President Harry Truman (photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

President Harry Truman (photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

These days what we see on TV, especially about the government shutdown, is not very inspiring. A glance back in time though gives us something we can treasure. On October 5, 1947 a historic television event took place, one that helped fight world hunger.

President Harry Truman delivered the first ever televised presidential address from the White House. His speech was about saving lives from the one enemy that remained from World War II: hunger.

At the time Europe, still reeling from the war, was suffering from a severe drought. Food was in short supply. Truman asked Americans to conserve food. The Citizens Food Committee was formed to rally America behind this effort.

President Truman said, The nations of Western Europe will soon be scraping the bottom of the food barrel. They cannot get through the coming winter and spring without help-generous help-from the United States and from other countries which have food to spare.

“I know every American feels in his heart that we must help to prevent starvation and distress among our fellow men in other countries…. Their most urgent need is food. If the peace should be lost because we failed to share our food with hungry people, there would be no more tragic example in all history of a peace needlessly lost.”

What happened after this TV address was amazing. Americans came together to donate food to Europe via the Friendship Train which crossed most of the country that fall. The “Silent Guest” program was started during the holidays to buy a CARE package for a hungry person overseas. Catholic Relief Services sponsored a nationwide Thanksgiving Week campaign to collect food at churches.

The post-war years saw Americans take action to make sure hungry children overseas received the food they needed to grow and learn.

The Congress followed with passage of the Interim Aid bill that provided food for Austria, Italy and France that winter. This food aid led up to passage of the Marshall Plan in 1948 and the reconstruction of Europe.

World hunger had a high profile in America’s foreign policy at that time. President Truman, Secretary of State George Marshall and other leaders routinely talked about the importance of fighting hunger. The October 5th television address being one example of this outreach. Marshall also addressed the nation about fighting hunger on October 5th.

In order to maintain a steady program of international food aid and development, you need to keep the issue front and center within the halls of government and the public.

Making world hunger a top priority is what Representative Betty McCollum (MN) is trying to accomplish with the Global Food Security Act. This bill would create a White House level coordinator for world hunger relief. Aid agencies want this bill passed. It has go through Congress and there is some support. More is needed.

We are now facing one of the largest hunger emergencies of our time with the war in Syria. This conflict has caused millions to be displaced and hungry. Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Mali and so many other areas are also suffering from severe hunger. It’s clear that action must be taken. We need a sense of urgency.

Food need to be a foreign policy priority for as George Marshall once said, “hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.”

originally published at the Huffington Post

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A School Lunch Hero for Disabled Children

In 1944 World War II was still raging. Students though at a school for disabled children in Cincinnati were facing their own daily struggles. Even having enough money for a school lunch was no easy task.

The school had a fund set up to provide lunches for the students. Keeping this fund resourced was the problem; that is, until the school received some help from someone very generous. As a result, the school lunch fund got a big boost which meant many more meals for the students.

Who was this mystery helper? It was one of their own students, 10 year old Charles Graff Jr. However, Graff had to study at home because he had the disease hemophilia. This is a disease where any slight cut could cause severe and even deadly bleeding. As Charles was confined to his home, a teacher from the school visited him there to give lessons.

Charles also had a hobby, collecting sales tax stamps. These were stamps placed on various items sold in stores, and you could redeem these stamps for cash from the government. So Charles kept collecting and as the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, he would give them to his teacher who would drop them off at the school. The tax stamps would then be redeemed, providing the school with a fund to buy the student lunches or sometimes even clothes.

Charles’s father, who worked at the Red Top Brewing Co., got co-workers involved to provide Charles with more stamps. More stamps meant more meals for the children.

Charles was ahead of his time. In 1944 there was no National School Lunch program; there was a limited luncheon program under President Roosevelt.

In 1946 President Harry Truman signed into law the National School Lunch Act, which provided free or reduced-price lunches for needy children all around the country. Healthier children meant better educated and more productive citizens for the future. It was a program built to last.

Charles, whose nickname was Bubbles, remained confined to his home and sometimes a wheelchair, due to his condition. That did not stop him though from being the “official” for many games his friends played on the street. Charles would officiate the games from his window.

The hemophilia took his life in 1950 at the age of 15. His legacy carries on. What Graff did in helping his classmates receive lunches is an example for all to follow. Fighting child hunger is about problem solving. You need people to find solutions, not excuses for why children cannot access basic foods.

Groups like Feeding America work to make sure children do not go hungry. This means strengthening the national school lunch program when required, or filling in gaps with after-school meals and summer feeding. For this reason, Charles Graff would make a great honorary ambassador for Feeding America.

Article originally published as Cincinnati’s School Lunch Hero for Disabled Children on Cincinnati.com and A School Lunch Hero for Disabled Children on Blogcritics.


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