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Two U.S. Presidents Speak In One National Address

November 3, 2015

There is no way not to be thrilled when the pages of history are opened.

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Last night while sitting in the rocker with the train whistle blowing off in the distance–does the mood get any better?–I came across a most interesting event from 1946.  From The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy comes the story of two Presidents of the United States speaking in a joint radio broadcast.

Following the end of World War II a pressing need across much of the world presented itself–namely how to make sure starvation did not do as much harm as the war itself.  To find ways to meet the food shortages and work to make sure foodstuffs got to the places most in need President Truman called on former President Hoover, who had worked wonders with starving populations under President Wilson.

As the story moves along Hoover is abroad on a fact-finding mission but Truman feels the need to have a national broadcast about the urgency of the problem.  Hoover says however he needs to fulfill his travel plans as the people of India, China, and Japan would be disappointed should he not visit.

But the speech must go forward.

Therefore, on April 19, 1946 Truman opens the broadcast from Washington which would air on all four networks with Hoover joining in from Cairo.  It was simply unprecedented to have two leaders speak together in this fashion.

As the authors note where Truman was practical in the address Hoover was “preacherly”.  Hoover had seen the ravages of war and the plight of people that would never leave him.

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We know the test of mankind that year was met, but it took the combined efforts of Truman and Hoover to get the international problem handled.

The story of the joint broadcast is a romantic one for radio junkies such as myself–but it is also a reminder of a political fact that too few grasp today.

Political opposites can work together for a larger goal.

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