Stimson part of Montana’s legacy

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President Trump is contemplating replacing Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, apparently based upon Trump’s observation, “I think he’s sort of a Democrat ...”

It is generally known that Jim Mattis is apolitical and admired by both Republicans and Democrats. But by labeling him a Democrat, President Trump is suggesting he is not in tune with President Trump’s views, thus giving Trump cover to fire him.

In today’s America, especially Washington, D.C., and Trump’s administration, being a Democrat is disqualifying to serve. Tribalism defines our political parties, increasingly demanding that the association and cooperation with the other side borders on treason.

It wasn’t always this way.

Glacier National Park’s second highest mountain, Mt. Stimson is named for Henry L. Stimson. An early friendship between George Bird Grinnell and Stimson in the 1890s paid big dividends for Montana and America.

Stimson and Grinnell explored and mapped areas of northwest Montana as young men. They fell in love with the rugged beauty of the country. We are indebted to Stimson’s strong and consistent advocation for the establishment of a national park many Montanans referred to as “The Crown Jewel of the Continent.” The rest of America and the world know it as Glacier National Park.

But history remembers and honors Henry L. Stimson for considerably more than his love of America’s wilderness. While an extremely successful attorney and Republican politician in New York City and nationally, he was periodically asked to served in various cabinet positions for presidents, both Republicans and Democrats.

He served as Secretary of War for Republican President William Howard Taft, 1911-1913; Secretary of State for Republican President Herbert Hoover, 1929-1933; and most importantly, a second stint as Secretary of War for Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, 1940-1945.

Mr. Stimson’s steady hand at the tiller for four different Presidents, two Republicans and two Democrats, over four decades, was instrumental in establishing America’s leadership during the 20th century.

As WWII was engulfing Europe, President Roosevelt called upon Stimson, a conservative Republican politician, to once again take up the mantle as Secretary of the War. President Roosevelt knew that bipartisan support was needed for America’s inevitable entrance into the war.

After Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into WWII, Secretary Stimson oversaw the conscription and training of over 13 million military personnel, as well as America’s economic expansion in producing the arsenal needed by the United States and her allies, to defeat the Axis powers.

Secretary Stimson was given oversight for the development of the atomic bomb, including direct supervision of General Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project. Both President Roosevelt and Truman, two Democrats, followed Secretary Stimson’s advice on all aspects of the atomic bomb’s development, including when Secretary Stimson overruled the military when necessary.

Mr. Stimson’s accomplishments and contributions, as outlined in his 1948 biography “On Active Services in Peace and War” rereleased in 2016, reflects his dedication and decades of service to America and the world.

Nobody seems to know the period that President Trump campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again” references. But it is generally known that America was the undisputed leader of the world at the end of WWII.

It was in no small measure that part of that success was the reliance upon a great American statesman, lawyer and Republican politician by Democrat Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Perhaps the greatness of America has always been, during times of national crisis, to seek out and rely upon proven leadership qualities irrespective of political party.

Tom Muri, a Whitefish native, writes mostly from Arizona now.

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