From June 2016
Theodore Roosevelt –
Teddy ceased to walk this earth, benefactor to his beloved Nation, valiant in his service to his country, his family and the family of Americans, on January 6, 1919.
During his remarkable life he never wavered in his support of America – these United States, and Americans. Were it not for Teddy, there would be no National Preserves or parks.
He had much to say. So sage was his insight that it retains universal relevance to this day.
Sadly, we have no modern day Teddy to set things right; there is so much to address, and so little time to meet the challenges. I fear we have adopted a timidness of heart that would be a foul countenance for this President to see.
What follows are some of his words. See if you do not agree that they remain relevant words of wisdom, to this day. Teddy is gone for 96 years. How I would love to see another like him at the helm.
“Any man who tries to excite class hatred, sectional hate, hate of creeds, any kind of hatred in our community, though he may affect to do it in the interest of the class he is addressing, is in the long run with absolute certainly that class’s own worst enemy.”
“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of today.”
“Our government, National and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests. Exactly as the special interests of cotton and slavery threatened our political integrity before the Civil War, so now the great special business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their own profit. We must drive the special interests out of politics.”
What turned out to be one of the last heartfelt patriotic opinions he penned:
“We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”
-Theodore Roosevelt – January 3, 1919 – Publicly read on January 5, 1919
Roosevelt passed the next day, January 6, 1919
In this, Teddy repeated and expounded upon what he had written before:
“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American. We have room for but one flag, and that is the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
“Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.”
About our natural land:
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
“Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”
He loved the United States of America; put his life on the line to defend it, lost his son in the service of the United States DEFENDING America.
“In foreign affairs we must make up our minds that, whether we wish it or not, we are a great people and must play a great part in the world. It is not open to us to choose whether we will play that great part or not. We have to play it. All we can decide is whether we shall play it well or ill.”
“In this country we have no place for hyphenated Americans.”
Presidential thoughts, and on leadership…
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss … The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
“The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
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Yes, he had a lot to say. Not everyone can agree on everything. As for my perspective; I am sure that Teddy would have rather a person support their position, firm in the knowledge of the situation, when not in agreement, than go along meekly, unwilling to effect change.
Our Politicians, by and large, have become what our founders intended that they NEVER become – De-facto Royalty. They are becoming and, indeed, have become our nations royals, holding themselves above those they are purported to represent.
They have positioned themselves so much so above us that they exempt themselves from laws of the land that we must abide. They refuse to represent the people in seeking solutions for the good of the country and obscure that with making ovations to “be inclusive” of special interests. What is good for one, is good for all – no longer matters, as our representatives have taken the power we gave them and twisted it.
Far too few to make the difference, those who would not conduct themselves as if a class above the People are unable to overcome.
I grew up on Long Island, not far from Teddy’s house. My son and grandsons call it just that – Teddy’s house. They have visited, played and learned there. Though I was born long after he left this world, Theodore Roosevelt touched my life – in fact, all of our lives. Strange that I should so miss someone I never knew.