Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt… one of the more famous American personalities in history. While I knew about him on a peripheral level for years, I felt no connection to this complex, interesting man until I watched a little CBS show titled Blue Bloods. It centers on three generations of a family who are or were all involved in law enforcement roles in New York City. The sole person in the middle generation, Frank Reagan, holds the position of Police Commissioner. You could say he views Teddy Roosevelt as somewhat of a role model. He more than once draws inspiration from his life and the lessons he passed down by example. And boy, did Teddy ever live.
Born 1858 in The Big Apple, Theodore was the son of a Dutch immigrant and a Southern Belle. Asthma, poor eyesight, and a fragile heart plagued him as a child. These health problems did not stop him from exercising frequently or determining he would not let them interfere with his future.
Theodore drifted in and out of public service positions for intermittent periods at a time. The death of his wife and mother cut his role as an Assemblyman and Captain of the National Guard short. After this tragedy, he migrated to the Dakota Territory. There, he learned the ropes of cowboying and cattle-ranching. This interlude lasted for two years before he made his way back to New York. He remarried and became a civil service commissioner, then the NYC Police Commissioner, and finally an Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary. He also tried his hand at soldiering, leading the Rough Riders Volunteer Cavalry Unit in the Spanish-American War. He returned to the position of Governor of New York once the conflict ended.
His bold, progressive personality and opinions did not endear him to his political party. They attempted to force him to stop pushing for policies they didn’t approve of. Little did they know, their choice to nominate him as the largely powerless Vice-President in the upcoming election would end up backfiring in a big way in 1901. President McKinley’s murder made Teddy Roosevelt President at age 42. He served almost two full terms. In this time, Teddy bolstered the Navy, christened the White House with its now famous name, and involved America in world events and politics for the first time. After stepping down, he didn’t miss a beat, going on a Safari and writing. He ran for office again and survived an assassination attempt during the campaign. Teddy carried on with his speech even after being shot. His long, colorful life ended in 1919 from an embolism.
Cowboy, commissioner, governor, president, soldier, writer, conservationist…
Theodore wore a lot of hats in his time, proving you cannot confine one’s identity to being just one, or even two, fixed things. Although he led an extraordinary existence, events of which I have only touched on, the primary reason this man has left such a lasting impression for me is his dedication to living life to the fullest. He also authored over 25 books on subjects extending from philosophy and history to biology and an autobiography. You can find another of his legacies in the environmental field. He championed initiatives to protect and preserve sites of natural and historical significance through such channels as the National Monuments Act, along with creating the Forest Service.
The characters on Blue Bloods use one of his most famous sayings twice. In the first and most impactful instance, Frank and his two sons, Danny and Jamie, share a drink at the table after a rough day on the job. In the sober atmosphere, they contemplate the reality that their job has involved them all in fatal shootings. Jamie and Danny take turns reciting the last few lines of the ‘It is not the critic who counts’ quote in a quiet moment of solidarity and comfort. This scene has always been one of my favorites due to the way it conveys not just the deep bond between these men as a family, but also the one forged through the fires of the life they all choose. And it’s able to do so because of Theodore Roosevelt’s inspiring and brilliant words.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt [Source]
Roosevelt was not a perfect man, by any means. But he knew what it was to live with passion and vigor, to try, even if you end up failing, and get back up and try again. He left an undeniable imprint on history, along with a legacy of, you might say, monumental proportions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hopeless romantic, fervent bibliophile, and aspiring word-smith, Kirsty Pearce also has a deep love for fantasy, fairy tales, & history. With a wide range of TV obsessions from Outlander, Bitten, & Grimm, to Dancing With The Stars, Nikita, & Horrible Histories, she enjoys watching as many Hallmark films as possible, knitting, baking, and sharing all her fan-girl thoughts on her blog.