National Geographic : 1966 Jan
Truman's response to the Soviet test was to order rapid develop ment of "super" atomic weapons, and on November 1, 1952, in Eni wetok Atoll, the first hydrogen ex plosion was set off, leaving a huge crater where a coral island had been (pages 66-7). During these same years Com munism was spreading rapidly in Asia, and by the end of 1949 had overrun the Chinese mainland. Suddenly, in June, 1950, the Com munist government of North Korea launched a full-scale attack on South Korea. President Tru man, conferring promptly with his diplomatic and military advisers, ordered American units into battle as the United Nations Security Council-with Russia boycotting its sessions-called all U.N. mem bers to defend South Korea. The U.N. organized a force of other nations to fight beside the Ameri cans and South Koreans. U.N. Troops Hold Line in Korea A long, discouraging struggle followed, as U.N. troops, predom inantly American, were at first forced back, then drove almost to the Chinese border, only to be pushed back again, this time by hordes of Chinese. After counter attacks, the U.N. held a line above the old boundary of South Korea. Truman insisted on a war of containment; he would not risk its enlargement into a major conflict with China, and perhaps Russia. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of U.N. forces in Korea, issued statements contrary to this policy, the President dis missed the "old soldier." In 1953 Truman retired to In dependence, Missouri, and contin ued to make lively comments on national and world affairs. He has published three volumes of mem oirs and seen the creation of the Harry S Truman Library and Museum. But his real monuments are the Fair Deal program and the collective security systems which stemmed the tide of Communism in Europe and Korea. Birth of the United Nations: Secretary of State Stettinius signs the charter in San Francisco on June 26, 1945. Truman, witnessing the event, said of the U.N., "If we fail to use it, we shall betray all those who have died in order that we might meet here in freedom and safety to create it." Five years later, Communist North Korea invaded South Korea. Truman announced U. S. intervention; the U.N. called for a defense force. And guns boomed in Korea for three long years (below).