MO: Senators Want Capital Train Station Named for Truman

May 08--The train station that Amtrak schedules refer to simply as "WAS" would get a new name if Missouri's U.S. senators have their way.

On Thursday, exactly 130 years after the birth of Missouri's only American president, the lawmakers introduced legislation to rename Washington's famous depot the Harry S. Truman Union Station.

The station, located near the U.S. Capitol and owned by the federal government, would serve to honor the nation's 33rd president, who has no memorial in the capital city.

"Harry Truman deserves a memorial in Washington that can carry the weight of his heavy accomplishments and can remind future generations of his great legacy that inspired a nation," Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday.

Her Missouri colleague, Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, shares offices once used by Mr. Truman when he served in that chamber.

"Harry Truman's tenacity, self-education and courage to do difficult things are appreciated by people in our state and nationwide," Mr. Blunt said in helping introduce the legislation.

Mr. Truman, who went to Washington from Independence, about 65 miles southeast of St. Joseph, would be no historical non sequitur in the renaming. His presidency had a close public association with an era of train travel, particularly as it regarded Union Station.

The station housed the presidential rail car, known as U.S. Car No. 1. When Mr. Truman, who assumed the presidency after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, decided to seek a new term in 1948, he began and ended his nationwide whistle-stop campaign at Union Station.

In leaving Washington at the end of his presidency in 1953, he and his wife, Bess, departed for Missouri from Union Station.

Union Station, designed in Beaux-Arts style by the noted architect Daniel H. Burnham, opened to train traffic in 1907. Used as a Serviceman's Canteen during World War II, it had an average of three million customers annually during the war years.

In the late 1980s, a public-private partnership resulted in a $160 million renovation of the building, which now has numerous restaurants and retail outlets.

Ms. McCaskill and Mr. Blunt both sit on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, under whose jurisdiction the renaming legislation would fall.

Ken Newton can be reached at ken.newton@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPNewton.

Copyright 2014 - St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

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