"I think many times of the old Battery and the old bunch. My one regret is I am not in a Battery in this war as I was in the last one".
During World War I, Truman served in France as a captain with the 129th Field Artillery. This was a profoundly formative experience for him, and he was very proud of his service. He also developed a real affection for his comrades and remained close with them for the rest of his life....
During World War I, Truman served in France as a captain with the 129th Field Artillery. This was a profoundly formative experience for him, and he was very proud of his service. He also developed a real affection for his comrades and remained close with them for the rest of his life. One of these men was Dr. Floyd H. Griffith.
During World War II, the military was again on Truman’s mind. When the U.S. Senate established a Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (which became known as the Truman Committee), he served as chairman. The Committee was so successful in uncovering waste, mismanagement and inefficency in the national defense program that Truman rose to national prominence. In fact, FDR selected Truman to be his vice presidential nominee specifically because the Truman Committee had visibly earned the nation’s trust and respect.
By 1944, reporters for leading newspapers agreed that, excepting Roosevelt, Truman had contributed more to winning the war than any other civilian in Washington. Historian Theodore Wilson would write that the Truman Committee was widely viewed as "the most successful congressional investigative effort in United States history."
Yet, though making such formidable contributions, Truman himself harbored a secret regret, one which he revealed to Dr. Griffith, with whom he had recently reestablished contact.
Typed Letter Signed, one page 4to, Washington, March 23, 1943, to Griffith (whom he addresses as “Doc”). “You don’t know how happy I was to find your letter on my desk when I returned from a trip investigating some defense plants just the other day, and I certainly do appreciate having the information which you gave me. I have often wondered where you were and what you were doing. I think many times of the old Battery and the old bunch. My one regret is I am not in a Battery in this war as I was in the last one. I hope I will have the opportunity to look over the plant to which you refer.”
This obviously sincere emotion within a personal letter gives us a more than interesting glimpse of Truman – a man who would rather be at the front with the men risking everything than make a contribution, however crucial, at home.
The file contains quite a few other letters. There is a secretarially signed letter from the presidential campaign in 1944, directing Griffith to the Florida Democratic organization; and 8 letters dated 1945-1948 from Truman’s military aide, Harry Vaughan, and other assistants and secretaries, mainly dealing with personal matters but saying on August 4, 1947, that the President is “harassed with matters of world importance.” Included is a copy of a newspaper clipping showing Truman and Griffith together.
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