Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

President Truman and the Banning letter

When asked later in his life what was his toughest decision as President, Mr. Truman stated that it was the decision to enter the Korean War. He must have spent many agonizing nights pondering decisions which he knew would bring trauma to many American families. One letter which must have had a sobering effect was the one below from Mr. Banning of New Canaan, Connecticut. Harry Truman kept this letter in his desk drawer for many years. Mr. Banning included in the envelope his dead son's Purple Heart.

Banning letter

  • This could serve as a great stimulus for a class discussion on Presidential decisions and the nature of war or you could have your history or government students write a reply from President Truman. Use this letterhead to do this.
  • What was the "Emblem" Mr. Banning was referring to?
  • Why was he returning it to President Truman?
  • What sort of treatment did Mr. Banning wish for Margaret Truman?