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You’ve stayed in those hotels where if you’ve seen one room, you’ve seen them all? That’s not how they do it at the Waldorf=Astoria. (And yes, that’s how it spells its name.) On Park Avenue in Manhattan you’ll find 1,413 spacious guest rooms and suites all individually designed and decorated. So if you don’t like the room you’re assigned, don’t despair. Chances are you’ll find the right one if you persevere.
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A little history is in order. (Don’t fall asleep, this is interesting.) Originally these were two hotels, the Waldorf (1893) and the Astoria (1897). Both were built by members of the Astor family. The original Waldorf stood on the site now occupied by the Empire State Building. (Interesting, right?) But when the action of the city moved north, so did the Waldorf=Astoria, and the new hotel – the world’s largest and tallest at the time – opened in 1931.
The hotel has not only entertained the world’s rich and famous, it’s also been home for some of them. Among the famous folks who’ve called the W=A home are former president Herbert Hoover, retired general Douglas MacArthur, inventor Nicolas Tesla, gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano, and composer Cole Porter (Great American Things, June 22, 2009).
Truman is the closest thing we've had to a common man as President in a long time. Though he was a senator from Missouri, he did his job in obscurity until FDR chose him to replace Henry Wallace in his third term. Uploaded by americaslibrary.gov.
Again, I tread lightly when selecting a person from the political realm. But as with Ronald Reagan (Great American Things, February 7, 2011), I admire Harry Truman for the kind of person he was, not just for the job he did as President. But I do admire that as well.
Truman was plucked from obscurity by Franklin Roosevelt to succeed Henry Wallace as Vice President for FDR’s third (and fourth) term. Well, being a U.S. Senator from Missouri isn’t quite obscurity, but Truman wasn’t a leader on the national stage. When Roosevelt died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage, Truman became the leader of the free world in the midst of a world war.Upon taking office, he said, “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now. I don’t know if you fellas ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me what happened yesterday, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”
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He performed admirably, making the difficult decision to drop the A-bomb on Japan that ended the conflict. Among his other notable accomplishments were implementing the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, creating the Air Force and the CIA, airlifting crucial supplies to break the blockade of West Berlin, recognizing the state of Israel, and assuring civilian control of the military by firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Truman said of his life, “I always remember an epitaph which is in the cemetery at Tombstone, Arizona. It says: ‘Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.’ I think that is the greatest epitaph a man can have…That is all you can ask of him and that is what I have tried to do.”