Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bolivar's Greatest Day

I recently visited the RootsWeb genealogy site for Polk County, Missouri, and I noticed the site mentioned the dedication of the statue of Simon Bolivar that took place in Bolivar on July 5, 1948. I wrote an article about this event, sometimes referred to as "Bolivar's Greatest Day," a few years ago for the Ozarks Reader. After taking office earlier in 1948 as Venezuela's first popularly-elected president, Romulo Gallegos wanted to present a statue of Simon Bolivar to the U. S. as a gesture of good will. Bolivar, Missouri, was selected as the site for the presentation because it was one of the more populous towns in the U. S. that was named after Simon Bolivar, and July 5, the Venezuelan Independence Day and only one day after our own Independence Day, was selected as a fitting date. Both Gallegos and U. S. President Harry Truman were present for the occasion, as were the governor of Missouri and other dignataries. The town of Bolivar went all out in preparation for the event, and a crowd estimated as high as 60,000 people turned out. The statue was unveiled in Bolivar's Neuhart Park, and both presidents gave speeches. Perhaps the most memorable thing about the day, however, turned out to be the intense heat, as the temperature soared to near 100. In later years, according to legend, President Truman, who previously had been inclined to use the expression "hotter than hell" when talking about the weather, resorted instead to describing unbearably hot weather as "hotter than Bolivar."

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