If he were alive today, President Truman would be proud of Neil Gorsuch
© Greg Nash

Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, had a smile on his face as Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the ninth member of the Supreme Court of the United States on April 10, one of only 113 people to have the privilege of serving on our highest court since the first judges were appointed in 1789. 

I write as a lifelong Democrat who has never met Judge Gorsuch.  What we have in common is a commitment to President Truman’s dream that an investment in the potential of young public service leaders will pay dividends.

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In 1987 Neil Gorsuch was named a Truman Scholar from Colorado, the same year I first served as a member of a Truman regional selection committee in Texas. In recent years, we have both chaired those regional committees — him in Denver and me in Austin — where we have the privilege to interview, along with six or seven other public servants, 12 to 13 outstanding young people.

 

The Truman Scholars program was President Truman’s idea, and it was his gamble that the nation’s future is bright. When approached by a bipartisan group of admirers near the end of his life, President Truman encouraged the creation of a living memorial devoted to this purpose rather than a bricks and mortar monument.

For him, a better future relied on attracting to public service the commitment and sound judgment of bright, outstanding Americans. By all accounts — and whatever his views compared to your own — Justice Gorsuch is that.

Forty years after the first 53 Truman Scholars were named in 1977, more than 3,000 diverse leaders of all ages are serving the public. From an Alderman in the City of Millington, Tennessee, to the Mayor of New York City, to the Governor of Missouri, to a member of the United States Senate and throughout in a host of government and nonprofit roles.

In the same week that Judge Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation will announce the 2017 class of 62 new Truman Scholars. This year, more than 300 colleges and universities nominated almost 800 outstanding students. They come from every state and territory. 

President Truman is smiling, and I am too, as Truman Scholars throughout the nation and the world are performing something worthy to be remembered. From the Supreme Court to the Armed Forces and from the math teacher in a classroom to the high school principal and in almost every conceivable area of public service.

My good friend and former member of the House of Representatives Barbara Jordan reminded the graduating class of Howard University in May 1974 of Daniel Webster’s words which are etched on the walls of the House Chamber:

Let us develop the resources of our land.  Call forth its powers,

build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see

whether we also in our day and generation may not perform something 

worthy to be remembered.

“Out of many, one.”  E Pluribus unum.

Max Sherman is Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and former Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former Texas State Senator and editor of the book, “Barbara Jordan: Speaking the Truth with Eloquent Thunder” University of Texas Press. 


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