A view from the Harry S Truman Peace Bridge of bridges that actually span the Missouri.
The family and I stumbled out of a filling breakfast at the City Market and stumbled upon one of Kansas City’s most forgotten landmarks, the aforementioned Harry S Truman Peace Bridge. Built in 1955, along with the publication of his autobiography, the Peace Bridge was funded and, legend has it, partially designed by the Thirty-Third President himself.
It was opened to the public on August 6, 1955 to commemorate ten years after dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The bridge, which starts outside the north end of the City Market and projects outward over the Missouri River, contains two large concrete towers where two large bells are placed, representing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bells are to be rung twice a year, on August 6th and 9th, to solemnly commemorate the bombings and loss of life due to the atrocities of war.
The bridge, which actually ends overlooking the Missouri River, is complete despite not spanning anything. Truman himself thought of this feature as he felt “the mission of great nations must be to extend peace to the world, and sadly, this mission never seems complete.”
And so we walked across the span, like most things in Kansas City, including Liberty Memorial, the US’s largest memorial to World War I, seems to have undergone a recent renovation, and the bells must have been removed from their concrete bases for cleaning and repairs. The bridge still maintained its industrial charm, and the views of bridges and the murky brown river fused with the railroad tracks underneath, creating a connected but distanced feeling from the world around you. Once the renovations are complete, I’m sure the experience will be transcendent once again.
As we somberly overlooked the Missouri River, and contemplated the nature of war and peace, we looked down at the little kids with us and wondered what type of world they were being raised in. With war raging all over the Middle East, terrorist bombings throughout the world, and ruthless dictators arming themselves left and right, perhaps now is the time we need another man like Harry S Truman to unleash the power of the atom and open up another fifty years of peace and love over the wonderful planet.