April 24, 2020

The Buck Stops Here

What he lacked in formal education (Harry Truman attended both business and law school but never graduated from either), he made up for with charisma and leadership skills.

“I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”

~ Harry S. Truman on becoming president upon FDR’s death in office

While a pandemic is not the same as a world war, there are certainly some similarities. I wouldn’t wish the tough decisions Truman had to make during World War II on anyone, and it’s easy for us to judge him for his choices some 75 years later.

Even when it comes to your parents, spouse, children, and best friend, it’s hard to see eye-to-eye with anyone 100%. And the same is true of the world’s leaders. Just like the rest of us, Truman wasn’t perfect. But I do have an awful lot of respect for leaders of businesses and nations who are willing to embrace accountability in a Trumanesque manner.

“You know, it’s easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you — and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here’ — the decision has to be made.”

~ Harry S. Truman in an address to the National War College on December 19, 1952

You can see the dark walnut sign that sat on the 33rd president’s desk on display at the Harry Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. (And did you know that the other side of the sign reads, “I’m from Missouri”?)

“The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

~ President Truman in his farewell address to the American people

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About Sage Scott

Shutterbug Sage began as a 365 photo project.