Theodore Roosevelt Our Park System’s Hero

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I believe Teddy Roosevelt knew exactly what he was doing when he began his nature campaign to set acres of land, monuments and historical sites aside for the future of America. He loved the outdoors and our heritage and wanted to assure that every generation to follow was going to have the same advantage. Roosevelt knew that the land grabs were going to be inevitable. He knew that the purveyors of commerce would soon deplete the very resources they sold to make their money with little to no regard for the replenishment of said resources. He knew that he needed to protect our natural beauty before it was raped and destroyed.

In today’s political atmosphere, the elite 1% would all convene at a local island resort and figure out how they could pool their money in order to stop him. Inland, limousines from far and wide would line-up outside of dark faced buildings and oil magnates, pharmaceutical company CEOs, and land developers would all get together with an agenda that would use the land that belongs to the American people for their own personal, financial gain. Theodore Roosevelt surely had his opponents, but to his credit the overall good of the people was served.

The 26th President of the United States had a love of the great wild west. After the death of his first wife and his mother, both on the same day, he left New York and ventured to the Badlands of South Dakota in an attempt to heal and escape a life filled with painful reminders Nothing in the Badlands was remotely reminiscent of his life back East. It was here that he became the environmental activist known for preserving lands for National Parks.

In today’s standards he would not be regarded as an ecologist simply because he hunted animals in numbers that threatened their extinction. Naturally, times have changed the way we see things and in the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, hunting was an unregulated and acceptable practice. Licenses today help monitor herds and flocks so their numbers stay in balance with the ecosystem surrounding them.

Still considered an environmentalist, I suspect that Roosevelt’s love of hunting would have been squelched to a degree if he knew the long term unsustainable outcome would have thrown his beloved wild lands into wastelands. Teddy was a sensitive man, and he had developed a love for animals in his youth. Although he was as rough on the outside as the hide of a wild boar, his gentile upbringing lent itself to perspectives that other men of the time did not widely embrace and conservationism was one of them.

Theodore Roosevelt was always on the move. His energy was non-stop and he was very athletic. As a child, he was fragile and suffered asthma, but as he grew older and stronger with the support of his father, he developed an athlete’s stamina. He loved boxing and football. He lost the sight in his left eye during his Presidency while boxing a young navy officer for sport. He stepped in and was influential in shaping college football by offering better safety regulations after seeing that the game was getting too dangerous.

Other ways he liked to keep fit was by rowing the Potomic. He brought martial arts to the White House. Prior to his stint in the White House with unbounded energy he formed the famous Calvary group known as the Rough Riders, and brought victory to the battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba during he Spanish American War. From the time he found his physical strength he never stopped.

It’s not surprising that he remarried and went on to have a large family. Whenever possible, to escape the Washington scene, he,his wife and their six children would go off to Oyster Bay, Long Island to the family compound known as Sagamore Hill. Although he conducted business from Sagamore, he spent most of his time there rabble rousing with the children. Even though he strived to stay fit and healthy (despite the boxing match that left him blind in one eye) he did not live to be an old man. He passed in his sleep at the age of 60 at his beloved Sagamore Hill home.

He is known as our first truly modern President and was able to see the future good of our country. American citizens should be forever grateful for all the wisdom he brought to the office of the Presidency. His legacy will continue to go down in history as long as there is an United States of America.

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