Washington, D.C., has no memorial or statue in the Capitol to honor President Harry S. Truman, who left office in 1953 as one of the most unpopular chief executives in history but whose legacy has been more than rehabilitated since then, with members of both parties grabbing for his legacy.
So Missouri's senators want to honor the only man from their state to lead the nation by designating the District's most iconic train station the "Harry S. Truman Union Station."
“It would be a fitting tribute to have the train station just a short walk from the Capitol, that played such an important role in his presidency, bear the name of this great leader,” Democrat Claire McCaskill said in a statement. She said the "gutsy straight-talker" deserves "a memorial in Washington that can carry the weight of his heavy accomplishments and can remind future generations of his great legacy that inspired a nation.”
Congress has the authority to wield its legislative power to rename Union Station, since the transportation hub is owned by the federal government. Both McCaskill and her home-state Republican co-sponsor Roy Blunt serve on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which will have jurisdiction over the bill.
The Bethel granite building, completed in 1908, has special significance to Truman's tenure in D.C. In 1948, when Truman decided to run for a full term in the White House, he launched a 30,000-mile whirlwind tour of the nation to get his message to the people. His “whistle-stop campaign” tour began and ended at Union Station.
During his presidency, the station was home to the presidential rail car, U.S. Car No. 1, which he used extensively to travel the states. On Nov. 29, 1951, for instance, Truman's special train — which included his private car, two dining cars, a club car and cars for Cabinet members and reporters — pulled out of Union Station bound for Philadelphia to catch the annual Army-Navy football game.
The senators introduced the bill on Thursday, Truman's 130th birthday.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has been overseeing revitalization efforts of the station, was not immediately available for comment.