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  • Home from the War

    Harry Truman and Bess Wallace on their wedding dayWorld War I was a turning point for Harry Truman. His decisive leadership and courage under fire earned the respect and admiration of his men. Truman thrived in the Army and felt a brotherhood with his fellow soldiers. He maintained lifelong ties to the military, especially with the men of Battery D. His military service opened the door to his next business venture, a retail partnership with Army buddy Eddie Jacobson. There was sweet success at home, too, as Truman finally marched down the aisle with Bess.

    Returning in Glory

    Battery D suffered no deaths in combat and the men considered themselves lucky to have survived. They attributed their luck to "Captain Harry." Their close bonds, forged on the battlefield, endured for the rest of their lives. Through service in the reserves, correspondence and reunions, the men stayed in touch with each other. Throughout his political career, Truman always counted on his army buddies for support.


    When the war came to an end on November 11, 1918, Truman was eager to head home. He was unsure what kind of work he would pursue, but very sure he wanted to be married as soon as possible. Bess began planning for their wedding
    two weeks before his return. She wrote him, "You can invite the whole company if you want to."

    "Dear Bess,…" from Camp La Beholle,
    near Verdun, January 21, 1919

    " …You know I have two breast pockets in my blouse.
    Naturally you can guess whose picture stays in the lefthanded
    one. I keep Mary's and Mamma's in the other.
    Yours is the one you sent me at [Camp] Doniphan and it
    has never left me, nor will it ever."


    After the war, Truman did not return to farming. Following their honeymoon, he and Bess moved
    into the Gates-Wallace home at 219 North Delaware in Independence. It would be their home for the rest of their lives. Harry opened a men's furnishings business in downtown Kansas City with his army friend Eddie Jacobson.

    " We'd done so well in the canteen, we didn't see why we
    couldn't do just as well in civilian life, and it looked like we
    were a pretty good combination. I'd do the selling and keep
    the books, and we had a clerk part of the time, and Eddie
    would do the buying. Of course the way things turned out
    we both did everything, a little of everything."

    Forging Ties in the Reserves

    Truman's military ties during World War I continued long after his experiences on the battlefields of France. Following his discharge in 1919, he missed army life and decided to return to Federal Service through the Officers' Reserve Corps. Although Colonel Truman completed his final stint of active duty in 1933, he was appointed commanding officer of the 379th Field Artillery and attended unit training during the summers of 1936 through 1938 at his own expense. Truman's own military service formed his views on security and defense. He became a strong advocate of military preparedness as the best method to deter future conflicts.