Harry Truman’s aspirations for a military career began back in high school, where he had hopes of attending West Point or Annapolis upon graduation in 1901. Although his poor eyesight prevented him from qualifying for admission, Truman did not entirely give up on a military career.
Four years after graduation, Harry S. Truman joined Battery “B” of the Missouri National Guard. The Guard had created Battery “B” in Kansas City as an addition to the already established Battery “A” in St. Louis. This time, Truman didn’t take any chances and memorized the eye chart. He became a private in Light Artillery Battery “B,” First Brigade on June 14, 1905.
When Harry Truman received his uniform, his eagerness got the best of him. He made a special trip to Grandview, Missouri to visit his grandmother, Louisa Young. The uniform was blue with red stripes down the trouser legs, red piping on the cuffs, and a red fourragère over the shoulder. When his grandmother saw this uniform, she was outraged. She said that the uniform reminded her of the Union soldiers that pillaged the family farm during the Civil War. She told her grandson never to come back wearing that uniform. He never did.
Harry Truman left military service 37 years later as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Officers’ Reserve Corps.
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Harry S. Truman in his World War I Army uniform, 1917.