The Harry S. Truman, “Little White House” Key West Florida…Recognizing first year of Post WWII “Boomer” Generation…1946

by | Nov 29, 2012

Little White House  Quote from this website…

“In November 1946, President Harry S Truman had finished 19 months in office, but was physically exhausted. His doctor, Wallace Graham, ordered a warm vacation. Truman arrived in November, 1946. As he was leaving he promised to return whenever he felt the need for rest. His second vacation came in March 1947. This set the pattern for additional visits every November–December and every February–March. Changing technology allowed the President to communicate with multiple political or world leaders at one time and he could summon staff to Key West for a meeting in three hours flight from Washington. Most importantly, Truman realized that where the President was, the White House was. Documents issued from the Little White House read, The White House, US Naval Station, Key West, Florida. Truman spent 175 days of his presidency at the Little White House in Key West, FL. In 1947, James Forrestal met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to hammer out the creation of the Department of Defense. This was called the Key West Agreement.”

As a proud member of the “boomers” born in 1946, it was a thrill for me to be reminded of this historical site.  President Truman showed us for the first time that the White House is wherever the President of the United States is at anytime…  These days the White House is often on Air Force One… 

Honestly, my memories of the “Little White House” are vague at best.  But as we toured the grounds and the museum, the memories came back.  I was just a baby in November 1946 when President Truman first visited Key West, and made it a working remote White House primarily during the months of November and December; and February through March.  Since then Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton occupied the Little White House at times.
“In 1991, the house opened as a state historic site & museum. Former President Jimmy Carter and family had a reunion here in 1996. In April, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell opened a week of OSCE peace talks, led by Minsk Group Co-Chairman Carey Cavanaugh between President Robert Kocharyan of Armenia and Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan.[3]  The first President to visit the site was William Howard Taft in December 1912.[2] He arrived by Flagler’s Overseas Railroad and sailed to Panama to inspect the canal then under construction. During World War I, Thomas Edison resided in the house while donating his service to the war effort.[2] He .perfected 41 weapons during his six month stay.[2] The house remained command headquarters through World War II.”

We Boomers have become so busy in our lives since WWII, it would not be surprising to me that a high percentage of my peers do not remember the “Little White House.”  I have discovered while on our own journey the past few months that revisiting history is an honor and privilege.   It is personally moving and heartfelt to be reminded of how proud we can be as Americans; and to appreciate the sacrifices of so many citizens in our past who protected our freedoms…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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