In real life, President Harry S. Truman was known for his native Missouri, "Show Me" toughness, leading the country through the final weeks of World War II.
Now, a bronze statue of the 33rd president in downtown Rapid City is proving to be just as resilient after being struck by a vehicle and knocked off of its base for the second time in 11 years.
A Thursday morning collision between two pickups sent one of them over the curb at the busy intersection of Mount Rushmore Road and St. Joseph Street.
No injuries were reported, but a Ford pickup struck the life-size statue of Truman, knocking it partially off its base but leaving it apparently otherwise undamaged.
In 2007, a drunken driver of a Ford Taurus knocked the Truman statue off its pegs at the same intersection. The statue suffered minor damage.
“This is a bad corner for presidents,” said Dallerie Davis, co-founder of the City of Presidents Foundation, which oversees installation and upkeep of 43 bronze presidential sculptures placed on street corners in downtown Rapid City.
Rapid City police spokesman Brendyn Medina said a northbound Ford F-250 pickup ran a red light at the intersection of Mount Rushmore Road and St. Joseph Street and was struck by an eastbound Ram pickup. The crash was reported about 8:50 a.m. Thursday.
“As a result of the crash, the F-250 got pushed up on top of the sidewalk, which resulted in the impact with the statue,” Medina said.
Medina said the driver of the Ford was cited for the red light violation and was reportedly distracted by a conversation with a passenger. Medina didn’t name the drivers involved.
Davis said the statue appeared to be none the worse for wear.
“I don’t see that there’s any damage to the patina,” Davis said. “And I think the base is pretty much OK.”
Davis said a support bar on the underside of the statue’s base will need to be re-welded and a mounting peg embedded in the concrete will be replaced. City crews will soon remove the statue for the repairs.
“He (Truman) will be headed back to the shop for a while, hopefully not for too long,” she said.
This is the latest incident involving the City of Presidents' statues, which were installed on downtown street corners starting in 2000.
In 2012, Bill Clinton's statue at the corner of Seventh and St. Joseph streets was knocked off its base. Police weren't able to determine whether a car hit the statue or someone tipped it over.
“We still don’t know who the culprit was with Clinton,” Davis said. “We don’t even know what happened.”
James Monroe was targeted in 2015 when someone stole the cane from his statue at the corner of Seventh and Main streets.
Last year, vandals tagged the bronze of Jimmy Carter at the corner of St. Joseph and Sixth streets with black spray paint. The paint was removed with little to no damage to the sculpture.
Davis didn’t indicate any desire to move the Truman statue to another location even after two encounters with wayward vehicles.
“Lightning can’t strike more than twice. We can only hope,” she said.