In honor of Presidents' Day, tell us: Who was your favorite U.S. President and why?
My favorite president is Harry Truman, who made the top five in a recent ranking of US Presidents.
He was a blunt, plain spoken, common sense man, who always made clear to those he dealt with how he stood on issues.
Because he came from a working class rural background, Truman did not have a university degree, the last American president whose formal education did not go past high school. Nevertheless, he was far from uneducated, as he was a lifelong bibliophile who educated himself through extensive reading and research, as he considered education to be a lifelong activity.
He worked a variety of jobs during his young adult years, including a stint as an Army Captain during World War I. But in the 1920s, he had to declare bankruptcy because of a business he owned that failed. After the bankruptcy, many people thought he was a failure and would not have thought him a candidate for a future Presidency. However, he never gave up, but started over, even eventually paying back all the money he owed that had led to the bankruptcy
Truman was a man who did not come from a privileged background. He experienced first hand many of the trials that average Americans did. He didn't have to imagine what it would be like to be one of us -- he was one of us.
One fo the first things Truman did in the aftermath of World War II was the de-segregate the armed forces, knowing there was no room for such hypocrisy in the army of a free nation who had most recently fought to end the oppression of others in Europe and the Far East.
Decades ahead of Walter Mondale and John McCain, he seriously considered having Eleanor Roosevelt as his running mate in the 1948 election, a request that Mrs Roosevelt declined.
Similarly, he envisioned the US with a national health care system, but, unfortunately, it was a dream that was way ahead of its time. However Lyndon Johnson, when he signed Medicare and Medicaid into law in the mid-60s, acknowledged and honored President Truman for the groundwork he laid that made these partial steps toward a national health care system possible.
Truman also holds the distinction of being the last President not to leave the White House as a millionaire.