Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Man For All Seasons

The man in the buckskins with the Tiffany knife tucked into his ammunition belt may look vaguely familiar to you. That's Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, born 150 years ago. He was a professional historian, author of 35 books, naturalist, lawyer, Medal of Honor recipiant, first American awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and post-presidency, explorer of the Amazon Basin. When he was 26, his wife, 2 days after giving birth to their daughter, and his mother both died suddenly and unexpectedly on the same day, in the same house. He left the care of his baby girl to relatives and moved to the Badlands in the Dakota Territories, where he learned to hunt, ride, rope, and rebuild his life. The photo above was taken during those years. He became lifelong friends with Seth Bullock, sheriff of Deadwood.

He returned to New York after several years, married his childhood sweetheart and fathered 5 more children. He went on to have many remarkable careers: Police Commissioner of New York, Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, soldier and leader of the charge up the hill at the Battle of Bull Run in Cuba, leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States, the youngest ever to serve. He was the first president to ride in a car, ride in an airplane, travel outside the U.S., ride in a submarine, and study jiu jitsu. He had a toy, the teddy bear, named after him and inadvertently coined the advertising phrase "Good to the last drop" while a guest of the Maxwell House Hotel... He was known to the public as "Teddy" but to friends and associates he was always "T.R." He had a photographic memory and was known as a brilliant conversationalist with a charming and robust personality beyond anyone's experience.

His visage is carved on Mt. Rushmore with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and his personal hero, Abraham Lincoln. Theodore Roosevelt is justfiably considered one of our greatest presidents.

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