Don Locke; Lookin Thru Bifocals
Sometimes little things are more interesting and telling about people than momentous events particularly well-known people. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, president from 1901-1909, was a cousin to President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945) Teddy put his small kids into a rope attached basket and pulled them up and down from a second story White House window.
One of Teddy’s aides remarked, “What you need to know about Teddy is he’s only about five years old.”
Both presidents, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon played the piano well. Truman’s favorite was “Missouri Waltz”. Nixon played on the Grand Ole Opry once.
Although President Truman was only a high school graduate, he was probably the best historian ever in the White House.
General Waldon Walker, on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff in the Korean War, was last seen firing a .45 pistol at a North Korean enemy tank before he was taken prisoner of the North Koreans. He never sat behind a desk much.
General Walker sat between two North Korean soldiers; one drove the truck they were in …this was on the way to prison.
“While going up a hill, the driver would let the truck engine die, rather than change gears. If the driver had to change gears, he would lose face, the General noted.”
While in prison solitary confinement, General Walker killed flies with a fly swatter. This helped him pass the time. He kept a very meticulous “battling average”. He was released in 1953.
What is still not well known, General MacArthur was determined to win the Korean War post-haste. After the North Koreans were driven north, back across the 38th parallel, and across the Chinese North Korean Yalu River.
MacArthur wanted to cross the Yalu River over into Manchuria and chase the North Koreans back to kingdom come. Then, President Truman, at the time, said, “No”. Intelligence requested that there were 29 to 30 divisions of North Koreans and Red Chinese Communist soldiers stated just across the Yalu River poised for a counter attack. The Red Chinese had joined the North Koreans for the counter attack.
Undaunted, MacArthur prepared six atom bombs, to load on to B-29’s, to wipe out those 29-30 enemy divisions in Manchuria. This is when President Truman fired MacArthur. Truman was afraid of all out war with North Korea, Red Chins, and Russia.
The Red Chinese did come across the Yalu River, in co-hoots with the North Koreans and extended the Korean War. Upwards of fifty thousand American troops died before a truce was signed in 1953.
The truce is still in effect, although shaky, today.
Five-star General Dwight Eisenhower graduated from West Point near the end of World War I. Between World War I and World War II promotions in rank were virtually frozen solid. Ike was finally promoted to first lieutenant where he remained for 18 years. In the meantime, he married his wife Amy. They knocked around together from Army post to post mostly enduring inadequate post housing and day after day, year after year of repetitious training.
During this time, they lost a child, later their son John was born bringing them some restored joy, after their first child’s death. Many times, Ike wanted to quit the Army and start a better life for his family. But he stuck it out.
Finally, the general to be was assigned to the Philippine Islands as an aide to General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of U.S. forces in that American protectorate.
When the clouds pf World War II began to appear in 1940, Eisenhower was moved back to the U.S. and assigned to the then, U. S. Army war games going on in Louisiana. For his efforts and a job well done there, he was promoted to major. Then when World War II came, he was jumped from major to a one- star general.
Then later, the head of the Army, George C. Marshall, made Ike, Allied Supreme Commander in Europe in World War II. Pretty good for a small-town boy from Kansas… five-star general.
After his term as U. S. President (1953-1961), not long after Eisenhower and wife Amy retired to their farm home near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Ike was asked what he would do in retirement,
“I’m going to sit down in my rocking chair on my front porch and after about a month, I may begin to rock a little.”