A few days ago (on 27 October), Teddy Roosevelt would have celebrated his 159th birthday. OK, he wouldn’t have, since he’s been dead for 98 years. But, you get the idea.
Despite the fact that there are certain elements (at least in New York City) who want to denigrate his memory (no, I am not saying he was a wonderful person)- after all, they (we don’t know exactly who) splashed paint on his memorial in New York City. They claimed he was a symbol of White Supremacy. This equestrian (he’s riding a horse) statue has adorned the American Museum of Natural History for 77 years.
Yes, I know Teddy was an imperialist demagogue. After all, that’s why Vice President Pence tried to claim that Teddy was a forerunner to TheDonald. (Proving the schizophrenic nature of his presidency, it’s also claimed that TheDonald’s roots stem from Andrew Jackson, as well.)
But, Teddy was a trust buster. And, TheDonald is about to permit the Sinclair Broadcasting company to control even more of the nation’s news than it currently does. (Sinclair demands its editorials [NOT LABELED AS SUCH] be inserted into each local stations’ news programs. Which is why I no longer watch any ABC news in DC.)
But, I digress. This is a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt. Consider this- besides being a lover (and preserver) of nature (yes, he also killed animals for sport), he was a patriot, a soldier, an author, an historian, a scholar, a scientist of sorts…. Oh, yeah. He was also Police Commissioner of New York City, a New York State Assemblyman, a New York State Governor, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and the President of the United States. Know what else? He headed the Civil Service Commission, an agency that tried to ensure that we got the best talent for the job, removing patronage and bribery from the equation.
(This agency was started by President Grant, but Congress loved the capability of installing their cronies and donors into government services and terminated its funding after two years. It took two Presidents to get it started again. The agency was killed by Jimmy Carter, who replaced it with two agencies- the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Office of Personnel Management.)
My family has an affiliation with Teddy Roosevelt, so I’ve always taught my kids about Teddy. The good and the bad. Where he made a difference, and where he fell short. (We all have our positive and negative attributes!)
After all, by the end of Teddy’s Presidency, he left America aggrandized by 18 national monuments, 4 game preserves, 5 national parks, 51 bird sanctuaries, and extended the boundaries or created anew some 150 national forests.
When my kids were little, we would drive over to Rosslyn and then walk around Roosevelt Island (as Mason’s Island was renamed during the Depression), a small piece of land (88.5 acres) between the Kennedy Center in DC and the ridiculously tall buildings in the Rosslyn section of Arlington County. Smack in the middle of the Potomac River. My children and I could revel in its natural habitats for all sorts of vegetation and animals. We often ate our lunches while perambulating the island. (Thanks to Subway and their vegetarian and tuna sandwiches!)
On various occasions (mostly Teddy’s birthday), we could see a wonderful impersonation of Teddy Roosevelt at the Memorial Plaza. Just like I enjoyed today. Yes, it was a rainy Sunday. But, it was also the 50th anniversary (29 October) of the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial. I just had to go.
And, you know what? I’m going to share Joe Wiegand’s impersonation with you. Happy belated birthday, Teddy!