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[VIDEO] May 8, 1964 | Harry Truman 80th Birthday Newsreel

May 8, 1964 - Harry S. Truman turned 80 today and celebrated the occasion with characteristic verve and vinegar.

The former President drew cheers and praise wherever he went, and he was on the go from early morning until evening.

The most memorable event — “one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my lifetime” — was his return to the scene of what he has called his happiest years in politics, the Senate chamber.

He sat at a front-row desk and heard himself eulogized by no fewer than 25 Senators of both parties. There was a standing ovation for him, one of several during his visit to the Capitol, as the presiding officer recognized him to make a speech in his own right. Choking with emotion, he was momentarily at a loss for words.

It was the first time the Senate had used a rule, adopted last year, that permits former Presidents to address it while it is formally in session. “I’m so overcome,” Truman told the Senate today, “that I can’t take advantage of this rule right now. You can wish me many more happy birthdays, but I’ll never have another one like this.”

Later, the Washington press corps sang “Happy Birthday” to the former President as a huge cake with candles was set before him at a luncheon in his honor at the National Press Club.

As it turned out, he was in excellent form as he made a brief talk without text or notes and briskly answered questions.

The way to get along with reporters, he said, was to “cuss ‘em out every time you get a chance.” But, he said, “my wife says I’ve thrown enough bricks and it’s about time for me to make a few friends.”

Of the late General Douglas MacArthur, whom he relieved of his Far Eastern commands in 1951, Truman said: “He disobeyed orders of the commander in chief, whom he did not respect, and he got what was coming to him.”

On the trustworthiness of the Soviet Government: “Russians never kept an agreement, and I don’t think they ever will.”

On the current contest for the Republican Presidential nomination: “I don’t give a damn who they nominate. We can beat the hell out of him.”

On how he would handle Governor George Wallace of Alabama: “I wouldn’t handle him at all because he will take care of himself. You don’t have to handle a man who is always wrong.”

Later, President Johnson was a surprise visitor at a private dinner given for Truman in the State Room of the Mayflower Hotel. The President apologized for having only a few minutes to remain because of a previous dinner engagement. But he said he could not remain idling at the White House, knowing about all the compliments that were to be paid the former President without putting in a “word of my own” about “the man whose very actions as President became the bedrock of our foreign policy.”

Tomorrow, Truman will be guest of honor at a luncheon given by members of the Supreme Court before leaving for a visit to New York.

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