The Los Alamos-Japan Institute will offer a Truman-Israel Tour in May. Courtesy image
President Harry S. Truman’s Honorary Rotarian card> Photo Courtesy Truman Library, Independence, MO.
BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
Dr. Judith Stauber, founder of the Los Alamos-Japan Institute (LAJI), and Clifton Truman Daniel, eldest grandson of the late President Harry S. Truman, met in Los Alamos in 2017 during the grand re-opening of the Los Alamos Historical Society (LAHS). Stauber was the LAHS Museum Director at the time. Their mutual interest in history, particularly World War II and the Manhattan Project, has fostered a strong friendship.
On August 16 they spoke to the Rotary Club of Los Alamos to announce their most recent collaboration: the Truman-Israel Tour, May 2-12, 2023. Both presented by Zoom—Stauber from New York, Daniel from Illinois.
The Truman-Israel Tour commemorates the 75th anniversary of President Truman’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1948. Just minutes after the founding papers were signed, Truman was the first world leader to acknowledge Israeli’s statehood. The upcoming tour will include stops in Haifa and Jerusalem and will explore the “great paths of ancient and modern” Israeli history, its “layers and layers.” The tour will also visit the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace.
Stauber undertakes this travel with a great deal of experience in creating “story-telling bridges.” She has worked with museums and has collaborated with many historians and researchers on the legacy of the Manhattan Project.
Among those who have become a good friend of both Stauber and Daniel is Masahiro Sasaki, the older brother of the late Sadako Sasaki, who, at the age of 3, was exposed to the radiation of Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945. Ten years later she developed leukemia, “the atom bomb disease.” Following Japanese legend, she began folding 1000 paper cranes to become well again. Her story is eloquently told in the 1977 children’s historical novel, Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes, by author Eleanor Coerr.
Daniel, who refers to himself as a “professional grandchild,” serves as one of two Vice-Presidents on the board of the Society of Presidential Descendants and finds himself in the company of other direct descendants of U.S. Presidents, including Grant, Garfield, Taft, Eisenhower, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, Ford, and many others. He and David Roosevelt, grandson of Franklin D. Roosevelt, find a great deal to talk about in their grandfathers’ relationship as successful presidential running mates in the election of 1944.
A few years earlier, in 1942, then-Senator Truman, Democrat-Missouri, chaired the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. He had not been briefed on the development of the atomic bomb, so was troubled by the unexplained funds going to Los Alamos, a small mountain community near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and other diverse locations. It was not until Truman became President following Roosevelt’s death in office in April 1945 that he was officially told the funds had supported the Manhattan Project.
Over a period of years, Daniel and son Wesley have recorded the oral histories of atomic bomb survivors.
When asked about the challenges and pleasures of being a presidential descendant, Daniel replied, “It’s difficult living in someone else’s shadow. Where do you fit in?” Yet, there is “great pride in preserving the honor of a presidential legacy.” Daniel continued, “It’s important to give back and do something beneficial. My heritage allows me to do that.”
Of special interest to Rotarians, Daniel mentioned that his grandfather was an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Independence, Missouri and an honorary member in Panama.
For information about the Los Alamos-Japan Institute and the Truman-Israel tour, please go to https://laji.us/
For information about the Society of Presidential Descendants, please go to https://societyofpresidentialdescendants.org/
Dr. Judith Stauber founded the Los Alamos-Japan Institute to build inclusive storytelling bridges between people and places of conscience. An intercultural and organizational development leader, Stauber facilitates strategic global communication in partnership with universities, museums, national parks, business communities, and government officials. From 2011-2018, Stauber served as Executive Director of the Los Alamos History Museum where she expanded exhibitions to amplify voices of local women, Native American, Hispano, and Jewish refugee communities, and included Japanese perspectives for the first time in the museum’s history. Stauber negotiated and delivered historic proclamations of understanding to Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Los Alamos County. As a global group facilitator, Stauber works with organizations across the U.S., United Kingdom, Israel, and Japan, has guided thousands of tour participants in the U.S., Cuba, and Israel, and has developed the Los Alamos-Japan Institute Truman-Israel Tour.
Clifton Truman Daniel is the oldest grandson of President Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess. He is the son of author Margaret Truman and former New York Times Managing Editor E. Clifton Daniel Jr. Daniel is honorary chairman of the board of the Truman Library Institute, non-profit partner of the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MO, and board secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. He is the author of Growing Up With My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman and Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman’s Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943. He is currently portraying his grandfather in the one-man stage show, Give ‘Em Hell Harry, as well as writing and lecturing on the Truman presidency. Daniel serves as chair of the Los Alamos-Japan Institute Global Advisory Board.
The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966. Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment. The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00, in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course. A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950. Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service. Members of the community are invited to join.