The 100th Anniversary of our National Parks and Teddy

Teddy R and Adam Lindquist

Teddy R and our National Parks

There are many celebrations occurring cross the country this year for the 100th anniversary of our National Parks.   I, along with several of my TR friends, will be contributing to these events, partly because many mistakenly believe Roosevelt created the National Parks.  Here is where you might need to pull out your history books for a refresher.

The first National Park was Yellowstone, established in 1872, well before Roosevelt’s time.  During his Presidency,  Roosevelt doubled the number of National Parks  from 1901-1909.  So that begs the question, why is 2016 the 100th Anniversary?  Because it wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson that the creation of the National Park Service occurred.

So why is Teddy often credited with the parks creation?  Because it was Roosevelt’s contribution to conservation and wildlife preservation that resulted in a national awareness of the need to continue to preserve the American Landscape.  Three major contributions of Roosevelt led to this: His doubling the number of National Parks while President; The creation of Wildlife Refuges and; the Antiquities Act of 1906 which created our National Monuments.  We must also remember that it was Roosevelt who hired Gifford Pinchot as the first Chief of the United States Forest Service to help manage our forest resources.  During his Presidency, Roosevelt would help protect 230 Million acres of land.  There is a very real reason he is called the conservation President!

As part of my mission for 2016 and hopefully beyond, I encourage you to take this year to explore this amazing land.  Take your children and their children on the real kind of adventure.   One where electronic devices are used only to record the sights and sounds to remind us of our experience.  An adventure where our conversations revolve around the amazing landscape that surrounds us.  Our parks, local, state and National are our real treasures.   Preserved because you enjoy them – but enjoy them you must to keep their preservation.

Veterans Day with Roosevelt

IN HONOR OF VETERANS DAY, Nov. 11, 2014 —Minnesotan Adam Lindquist’s award-winning portrayal of America’s 26th president, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, entertained a roomful of guests and veterans at Covenant Village of Golden Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Pictured, left to right, Brooklyn Park, Minn.-resident Marvin Ceynar; Adam Lindquist as Teddy Roosevelt; and U.S. Navy veteran and Covenant Village of Golden Valley resident Wally Swanson.

IN HONOR OF VETERANS DAY, Nov. 11, 2014 —Minnesotan Adam Lindquist’s award-winning portrayal of America’s 26th president, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, entertained a roomful of guests and veterans at Covenant Village of Golden Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Pictured, left to right, Brooklyn Park, Minn.-resident Marvin Ceynar; Adam Lindquist as Teddy Roosevelt; and U.S. Navy veteran and Covenant Village of Golden Valley resident Wally Swanson.

Veteran’s Day as we know it didn’t exist when Roosevelt was President.

It wasn’t until November 1919 that President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”  It was in honor of “The war to end all wars”.

Even though we did not have an “official” day at the time, Roosevelt acknowledged the sacrifices of those who came before, often citing those who fought in the Civil War in many speeches he presented.  The importance of Patriotism, sacrifice and honor are prevalent in the majority of Roosevelt speeches.

TR also spent much time after the Spanish American War with his “Rough Riders”.  These events were very popular with those who served, and even though Roosevelt wasn’t able to attend the 10th Anniversary, this gives you and idea of what many reunions must have been like:

Monday, Dec. 14, 1908

The Rough Riders, the regiment Theodore Roosevelt led in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, held their 10th annual reunion last night at the Union League Club. Roosevelt did not attend, but Major Gen. Leonard Wood, “the first Colonel of the Rough Riders,” did. Roosevelt’s regrets are quoted: “I wish I could be present at that dinner, but it is out of the question. Give my warmest regards to all present. The flag we carried is, I think, in Arizona. Personally, I should deem it very unwise to keep sending it around the country to the different reunions.” His wishes were not followed. “Col. Benson went to Arizona and got the flag. … The first toast drunk was ‘To the Dead,’ and was drunk in silence. Gen. Wood proposed the toast, ‘To the President of the United States.’ He told in an impromptu speech of the difficulties in clearing Santiago, and later Havana, of the yellow fever peril, also of his work in the Philippines, and said that, whatever he may have accomplished there, it was materially helped by the enthusiastic support given by President Roosevelt. … One of the most interesting features of the evening was the singing of the Rough Rider song by Col. Emerson. This song, which has about a thousand or so verses, was composed by Col. Emerson while the regiment was on duty in Cuba. It has been added to at almost every special occasion since. The chorus goes thus: ‘Rough Riders we are, from the West,/Green tenderfeet the rest,/Of mounted men the best./Rallied at Woods’ and Roosevelt’s behest/To carry our way to glory.’ Col. Emerson sang verses until he was tired, and early this morning the Rough Riders were still chanting the chorus as they went homeward.”

On a personal note, I would like to take a moment to thank those who served and to honor those who gave their lives so that we could be free.  Thank you is not enough to say for all you have done.



Never be afraid to try

TR riding in a Wright Flyer

TR riding in a Wright Flyer

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

As children we are often carefree and not afraid to stumble and fall. That first time we are laughed at by another (when we don’t laugh at ourselves for our failure but instead shrink inside with embarrassment) is our first real point where our personal risk taking changes. The reality is that We all live each day with risk – driving our cars requires a certain amount of acceptance of risk that the other driver’s on the road are paying attention. Eating food that was sourced from across the globe requires an acceptance of risk that it was raised in a healthy way. Each day, we take risks without even thinking about it.

So why is it that we place such constraints on ourselves when it comes to how we are perceived by others? So many have engrained their lives with fear to fail, that they fail to live.

Roosevelt was a man who lived his life often without much fear of failure. His intelligence and knowledge of history allowed him to weigh risk carefully in the decisions he made. There are not many of us who could reference both the Roman empire and Greek Mythology to decide if a law made sense for the short and long-term. Roosevelt could. But with his intelligence came a child-like fascination with life that would find him doing things that others would be afraid to do or be laugh at for doing. He was a risk taker, He loved to try new things. He was the first President to fly in an airplane, but not the comfortable Air Force One. His flight was in an airplane that was known for its danger! He was the first President to dive in a submarine. The list is extensive!

Roosevelt was not afraid to be laughed at. He would often stand motionless under a tree in the Whitehouse lawn for hours on end. The Secret Service only stared in amazement, laughing at him trying to figure out what he was doing! Roosevelt was perhaps one of the most knowledgeable bird watchers on the Hemisphere – and this was a form of learning and relaxation for him. Many of his acts on conservation were thought of under that tree!

Today, Roosevelt is regarded as one of our best Presidents. He should be regarded as well on someone never afraid to fail.

Roosevelt’s animals in the White House

Quentin Roosevelt on his pony

Quentin Roosevelt on his pony

Theodore Roosevelt was always fascinated with nature and animals. His legacy can still be seen today through specimens collected for museums. That love of animals is something he passed down to his six children who had among them snakes, dogs, cats, a badger, birds, a bear, guinea pigs, ponies, a hyena and five dogs!

When Roosevelt’s son Archie got the measles, his brother Quentin thought a visit from the family pony might cheer Archie up. Quentin put the animal on the White House elevator and brought him to Archie’s upstairs room. Roosevelt had to hold back laughter as he scolded Quentin. But, Quentin’s animal adventures didn’t end there. Once he borrowed a bunch of snakes from a pet store. Running to show his father, Quentin interrupted an important meeting and dropped the snakes all over his father’s desk.

Alice, Roosevelt’s 17-year-old daughter (and one of the prettiest girls in Washington), had a pet snake as well named Emily Spinach. She took great joy in hiding the snake in a covered dinner plate during large White House banquets, and waiting for the shriek from guests when Emily appeared.

The Theodore Roosevelt Family

The Theodore Roosevelt Family

Roosevelt’s bull terrier, Pete was a beloved member of the First Family but was not a hit with visitors. Pete once attacked the French ambassador. After much commotion he was found to be uninjured but the same couldn’t be said for his pants. Pete had shredded one entire pant-leg.

Among the White House pets were a guinea pig named Father O’Grady and of course the snake named Emily Spinach. Roosevelt himself had a Bull Dog named Pete and a Chesapeake Retriever named Sailor Boy. He also had a small bear named Jonathan. (not the Teddy Bear, that’s a different story!)

Lion in the White House

Available from fine book sellers

Available from fine book sellers

In my line of work, you need to read a great deal of books about Theodore Roosevelt.  My current undertaking is called Lion in the White House, a life of Theodore Roosevelt by Aida D. Donald.  Called a “short Biography” this book is a well written overview of TR.   Filled with images as well as interesting stories, this is a great way to get “your feet wet” about the man who was called “the Lion” by his children.   With a man as complex as Roosevelt, I recommend that you start out by reading a book like this one, and then focus in on the parts of TR’s life that interest you.

I have many, many books that outline the history of Roosevelt in detail and many are very good.  I love to shop antique stores and find old volumes that have been out of print that may give me added insights into the complex man many know as “Teddy”.  This has led me to books on his daughter Alice, herself an interesting character and on Edith, his wife, who was as important in his career (as any man with a good wife knows).  I recently found a book focused on TR at Oyster Bay at his home which details his family life, a great find and a perfect glimpse into the man when he was away from the White House.

I spend a great deal of time on the internet as well and find that many of the stories about TR have been frankly poorly copied or altogether incorrect.  If you read a fact stated on my web site, I have at least three volumes of data to support the statement.  However, there is an important statement I learned long ago “History is lies agreed upon”.  So while I have supporting evidence, I always take into account that the evidence is only as good as the person giving it.