“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Theodore Roosevelt
When I received the call to come to Washington D.C. and appear as Roosevelt on Halloween day, I was more than sure that the call was a joke. However, the client seemed sincere about why they wanted me and I had a very specific job: Encourage the Secretary of the Interior to talk to her boss, President Obama, about using the Antiquities Act to preserve land. TR had created the act as a presidential ability to make sure that certain areas of cultural, wilderness and heritage value could remain intact for future generations.
Secretary Jewell and I met in the hallway that day and spoke for several minutes before she made her first public comments in her new job. She told me to listen to her speech, as she was going to reference Roosevelt several times. Each time she did, she smiled at me or reminded the crowd at the National Press Club that “Teddy” was not only with her in spirit, but in person.
Secretary Jewell and the modern Teddy Roosevelt would meet many more times over the coming months, with a much clearer message: use the Antiquities Act to make the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks, in Las Cruces New Mexico, a National Monument.
Obama gave hints that my conversations were hitting home. In January, he made reference that he was poised to use the act in the State of the Union address, his first time in mentioning the capability. A few weeks later he did just that, preserving a coastline of California, Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands National Monument and hinting that more were on the horizon. I received a note from my client telling me that he had confided to a reporter that he was “poised” to protect the Organ Mountains if Congress didn’t. We have sat for many months waiting for any news on the progress, hopeful.
This morning, I received an invite from the Secretary of the Interior’s office to celebrate the Organ Mountains – Desert Peak National Monument. 496,000 acres of land, protected for future generations. I hope TR is pleased with my work, even if it is being carried on by just a man who looks like him.