Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Happy 157th Birthday, Colonel Roosevelt
Today marks the 157th Birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, and, undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating human beings you can read about.
I've lost count of how many Roosevelt books I've read, and each one reveals another layer of the man. Modern Americans would do well to study the challenges of his Presidency as they truly can provide instruction as to how history is nothing but a series of repeating circumstances, and the choices Roosevelt and his contemporaries made might shed light on our own path forward.
Of course, Roosevelt is most famous for his boisterous personality, his rich history of service, and his spirit of travel and adventure - all of which begins with a series of tragic preambles from his own ill health as a child, to the tragic death of his father, to the death of his mother and wife on the same day. And even how he dealt with personal calamity can be instructive: go be a cowboy.
The man was deeply flawed, had an outsized ego and the propensity to be a tyrant and make up his own laws when convenient. He shattered his own party, handled some sensitive events better than others (the coal strike - pretty well, the Brownsville incident is still a mark of shame on his record), and had difficulty with personal relationships when they damaged his pride in any way, shape or form.
To have personal heroes as an adult is a difficult task. You have to accept and admit that everyone is flawed, but its the nature of those flaws and what they did in spite or because of them that you can come to an understanding of what you value and your own ideals.
I am uncertain if Theodore Roosevelt is a personal hero. Maybe I should be more of a Taft man, or James Garfield. But there's something stirring about Roosevelt, and just keeping up with him in books recounting events moving ever further into the past can still be exhilarating.
Here's to our 26th Preisdent, the hero of Kettle Hill/ San Juan Hill. The Governor of New York. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The Commissioner of the Police of New York City. The New York State Assemblyman. The cowboy. The naturalist. The explorer. The big game hunter. The conservationists. The elitist. The progressive. The soldier. The son. The father.
Here's to TR on his birthday. Let us always celebrate the man for what he was - all the greatness and faults of America, all the things we could be and shouldn't be, all in one man.