By: Jordan Verdadeiro
Many children dream of being the president of the United States of America growing up. Imagine being the grandchild of the former President, and only finding out at the age of six? This is all too familiar for Clifton Truman Daniel, grandson of President Harry S. Truman (amongst several other distinct names in history).
Clifton Truman Daniel is son to Clifton Daniel Jr., who was a managing editor of the New York Times from 1963 to 1969; and son to Margaret Truman, a singer and a best-selling mystery writer.
Until recently, Clifton Truman Daniel was the Director of Public Relations at Truman College and an honorary chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Harry S. Truman Library, in Missouri. He is also an author, speaker, and fundraiser.
On February 9, 2016 Dr. Robert Watson’s students and others were privileged to hear Daniel speak of his family’s great history and the perks of being a Truman.
President Truman came into office during World War II, April 12, 1945, after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt; and is known for a paramount event in history; the drop of the atomic bomb on two cities in Japan.
Being a president was not an easy task, especially during this point in history. Daniel expressed how difficult of a decision it was for his grandfather to undergo the atomic bomb on Japan, and how he did not realize how dramatic it would be until the aftermath.
On a lighter note, Daniel also spoke of his memories of being in the White House. One story he told that entertained the audience was when he and his family went to go have breakfast with the Johnson’s (Truman and LBJ were very good friends) before leaving D.C. to go back to New York on a 10 o’clock train.
“We got to the White House and everybody was tense and the elevator opens on the second floor. There’s Lady Berg Johnson, in her nightgown, hair and makeup all in place. The President came out in his bathrobe and pajamas, and all I could think of was ‘Damn it, I got all dressed up for this and they haven’t even gotten out of bed yet?’” said Daniel.
Daniel expressed his excitement of being in the presence of a president at such a young age, especially when he got to miss school for it.
He also explained how the teacher expected him and his brother to have evidence of their skipping school. President Johnson tried giving them matches that said “The White House” on them, and Lady Berg Johnson exclaimed that is not something to give to a child.
Daniel also explained the hard-working yet very laid-back personality that President Harry S. Truman held, and his love for Key West, Florida. President Truman held a journal of his schedule, and had a naval officer that would keep a daily log for him.
“Alright boys, it’s time to get some work done,” is what the officer would write for him in his log. Surprisingly, this did not actually mean that he was actually getting to work. In fact, it meant that it was time to drink or time to play cards.
“He did do a lot of work, but he shifted his day,” said Daniel.
According to Truman Daniel, when his grandfather would stay in Key West, he would wake up a little later in the day and spent his days relaxing on Truman Beach, drinking, playing cards and then would head to his office during the evening when everyone else was relaxing or watching television to get all of his work done from about 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Throughout his discussion with Dr. Watson on stage, he continued to keep the audience entertained and even answered questions after the event.
During an exclusive interview with Daniel, he explained how he has visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in October of 2012.
Daniel described his conversations with the survivors of the atomic bombings (Setsuko Thurlow and Yasuaki Yamashita) along with Akira Kawasaki (executive member of Peace Boat) and how he wanted to reconcile with the Japanese, and successfully did.
Daniel explained in the interview that Sadako donated a paper crane to the World Trade Center Memorial, as a gesture of healing and how he held the last paper crane that Sadako folded. He also said he brought back cuttings from trees who survived the bombings and plan to replant them at the Truman Library.
The seeds of the trees are currently being held at Power Gardens, which is a Kansas City Arboretum.
Being a Truman does in fact come with many perks, and Clifton Daniel has definitely made the most out of his experiences.
More information can be found on http://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com