Missouri Infantrymen Wish Happy New Year to the Stateside Folks

It’s here, for these infantrymen, along the 38th parallel, that the new year must have felt strange indeed. Nineteen months later, their war would end—to the surprise of Americans who had just-recently gotten used to the idea of us unconditionally winning global conflicts—in stalemate. And mere months earlier, their five-star general had been fired.

As H.W. Brands observes, The Korean War was the first time since the 1700s that we were bound, via the brand-new NATO Treaty, to a peacetime alliance. And so we went. Militarily leading this “containment” effort was former-co-emperor General Douglas MacArthur, whose staggering popularity only served to contrast Truman’s still-historically-unmatched unpopularity.

The office of the Presidency is a malleable thing. Many presidents have entered and left office having left its boundaries much as they found them; Harry Truman was not one of them. While his sins continue to haunt us today, his successes—executively ordering the desegregation of the military, trying to establish a national health service, and soundly firing the nationally-beloved general who was nevertheless trying to invade China—end up casting Truman in what is, in the least, a sympathetic light.

January Firsts have always been strange, overwhelming, confusing days. In that confusion, there’s possibility. If an earnest, unprepared, too-trusting, coke-bottle-glassed haberdasher from a small town in Missouri could find himself enough to ward off World War III—despite what it’d mean for him personally and politically—then there’s a chance for us all. Happy New Year, kids.

A Note on Sources

The American Scraps Executive Reference Library

Every American Scraps comic strip cites, links-to, and—where possible—displays a preview of its source artifact. These artifacts are all from public-domain, royalty-free sources, and are appropriate for use in the classroom. Most American Scraps sources come from The National Archives And Records Administration (NARA), whose “Today’s Document” feature was the original inspiration, in 2010, for this whole enterprise. (On a personal note, I’m grateful to NARA for the invaluable work they have done, and continue to do.)

For ease of use in the classroom—specifically grades 5–12—American Scraps organizes its material according to UCLA’s National Standards for History Basic Edition (1996), as you can see in those ten “Historical Eras” above. Learn more about the National Center for History in the Schools here.

If you’re a teacher and are using American Scraps in the classroom, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at jon@americanscraps.com.

A Note on Theft

The original art you see here on American Scraps is copyrighted, and reproduction of it is prohibited without written approval.

In other words, unless I’ve told you otherwise: Don’t save or screenshot these comics for use in your own post, tweet, slideshow, or embed. Don’t “remix” or “aggregate” them. Don’t reproduce them, even in an appreciative way. Don’t sell them. Don’t drop them into a listicle called “15 Comic GIFs That Tell The Story Of American History (And You Won’t Believe #8!)”.

Instead, contact me at jon@americanscraps.com and let’s talk about your idea.

American Scraps