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‘Heroes or Corpses’: Captain Truman in World War I

March 10, 2018 - December 31, 2018

“There we were watching New York’s skyline diminish, and wondering if we’d be heroes or corpses,” Harry S. Truman later recalled as he departed New York for the battlefields of France in the spring of 1918. Truman returned a hero, and his service helped set him on the path to the presidency.

“‘Heroes or Corpses’: Captain Truman in World War I” tells the captivating story of Truman’s service in the Great War through never-before-exhibited photographs, personal letters and more than 40 artifacts from Truman’s personal World War I collection. View the loving cup that members of Battery D purchased for Captain Truman with money they pooled together following the war. See Truman’s tack box that was painted over with the new title “Captain Harry S. Truman” when he was promoted from lieutenant to captain. Read some of the more than 100 letters that Captain Truman sent to his fiancée Bess while stationed overseas.

World War I helped transform Harry Truman into the man who would one day become one of the most respected presidents in our nation’s history, and this year only, visitors can view this fascinating story in depth at the Truman Library.

Upon entry in the National Guard, Truman was put in command of Battery D of the 129th Field Artillery, 35th Division, an unruly bunch that grew to respect him as he proved his leadership skills. Throughout their service together, Captain Truman managed not to lose a single man, even though Battery D braved the largest action in American military history at that point — the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Commemorate the centennial of America’s involvement and Truman’s service in World War I, and view this story of leadership and triumph on display this year only at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.

The exhibition runs March 10 to December 31, 2018, and entry is included in museum admission and free for Truman Library Institute members.

Members enjoy free Museum admission, not only at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum but all Presidential Libraries of the National Archives.

Plan your next Museum visit.


March 10, 2018
December 31, 2018
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Harry S. Truman Library & Museum
500 W. US HWY. 24
Independence, MO 64050
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20 E. Gregory Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64114
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