What would you do if you lived at the bottom of a volcano that experts claimed was about to erupt? Like most sane people, you’d probably vacate the area…and then watch live feeds provided by those crazy cameramen over at CNN.
Evidently, Harry Truman wasn’t very sane.
No, not that Harry Truman. Harry Randall Truman. Yes, he lived during the same time as the 33rd President, but he wasn’t nearly as famous as the man who dropped the atomic bombs on Japan…until a veritable atomic bomb went off in his backyard!
In the spring of 1980, a series of earthquakes near the volcano known as Mt. St. Helens captured the attention of seismologists. When steam began spewing into the skies over the State of Washington, the volcano captured the attention of the whole world. Geologists from every sector weighed in on the spectacle of nature, and all agreed on one fact: the volcano was going to blow.
Residents began to flee the area. Emergency personnel and law enforcement officers took charge and began evacuating anyone who lived near the fire-breathing mountain. But when they knocked on the door of Harry R. Truman, the world met the most stubborn man alive.
The WWI veteran didn’t mince his words. In language that “raised the adjectival use of profanity to a new high,” Truman, the caretaker of the Mt. St. Helens Lodge for more than 50 years, explained why he was staying put. “It’s a part of me, and I’m part of that (bleep) mountain. If I got out of here, I wouldn’t live a (bleep) day, not a (bleep) day. If the mountain goes, I’m going with it.”
Despite repeated pleas by sheriff’s deputies, news teams, and even family members, Truman stayed put on the mountain.
On May 18, 1980, at 8:32am local time, the inevitable happened: the volcano erupted in an explosion that released 24 megatons of thermal energy, shooting plumes of ash and debris more than 15 miles into the atmosphere. The ground-rocking blast, ensuing landslides, and molten lava flow destroyed everything within 230 square miles.
Including Harry Randall Truman.
The old man died a senseless death because he was unwilling to react to imminent destruction.
Before we label Truman a fool, we must come to grips with the fact that we tend to make the same exact mistake he did: we see signs of ensuing destruction all around us…but we don’t heed any of the warning signs. It doesn’t have to be an ancient volcano; it could be an addiction to alcohol, or even, an unrestricted temper. When we see the billowing clouds of destruction, we must make any changes or corrections necessary.
Otherwise, we’ll be buried in the rubble of our foolishness.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)