Belton Lodge #450 of Belton Missouri was the site for the initiation of Harry S Truman into Freemasonry in the winter of 1909. Two years later some members of the Belton Lodge established Grandview Lodge #618, with Truman serving as its Master. In 1940, then Senator Truman, known nationwide by then as the head of the Truman Committee (which investigated waste among defense contractors), was elected to be Grand Master of Masons in Missouri.
Later, while in office as President of the United States, Truman commented, “The greatest honor that has ever come to me, and that can ever come to me in my life, is to be the Grand Master of Masons in Missouri.” Truman received many additional honorary titles in Masonry while serving as President, including Honorary Grand Master of the International Supreme Council.
Truman was active and supportive of Masonry before, during, and following his Presidency. While campaigning, first for the Senate and later for the Presidency, Truman attended Lodges around the country. Throughout his career as a Missouri judge and later as a United States Senator he concerned himself over the condition of roads and highways, and frequently drove himself on long trips, visiting Masonic Lodges along the way.
As Roosevelt’s Vice President in early 1945, he found the exhausted and clearly dying President to be too busy to return his calls to the White House, but at a luncheon found they had a common bond in Masonic ideals. As President, Truman was forced to turn to those whom he personally trusted, many of whom were friends and fellow Masons from Missouri.
When Truman died in 1972, of complications from pneumonia, he was buried on the grounds of the Truman Library following a televised funeral which included Masonic rites and remarks from the Grand Master of Masons in Missouri W. Hugh McLaughlin. “He was our brother by adoption,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “He was our companion by choice.”