Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm a Doer! Theodore Roosevelt

Welcome back to I'm a Doer!  Where we look at men and women who take life by the horns, who grip it and rip it, the ones who aspire while inspiring.  Today we cast the spotlight on one Theodore Roosevelt.  The author of 35 books, a cowboy and a political reformist who spoke 6 languages and winner of a Nobel Prize and the Medal of Honor.  In a time of expansion and revolution, T.R. was always searching for his next challenge and looking for a good fight.  A literal tragic hero, Roosevelt was born into a wealthy New York family but was weak with asthma and had to be home schooled.  It was here that his love for books and nature would become his friends in lieu of classmates.  His father would not accept an invalid for a son so through sport and determination, T.R. built himself into a new man.  At Harvard, the future president would take up boxing and rowing while excelling in the social scene after his years of quiet seclusion.

Heartache and tragedy would be a facet of Roosevelt's life as his father passed away in 1878, followed by his first wife and mother in 1884, on the same day, in the same house.  The light of his life extinguished, T.R. headed to the rough Dakota Territory where he planned to live off the land like a cowboy.  It was tough going at first as Roosevelt was a nature lover but far from a ranch hand.  Decked out with store bought western duds and fancy equipment, T.R. worked hard to gain the respect and knowledge of the life long cowboys and learned how to rope, ride and hunt.  He would also serve as a deputy sheriff and pursue outlaws, further adding to his growing larger than life persona.  After a blizzard wiped out his herd of cattle, T.R. headed back to New York.

Working as the Civil Service Commissioner, T.R. went after unqualified slackers and the rich buddies of politicians.  Calling for many a resignation, Roosevelt began to win a favorable view with the common population who were struggling to get by.  The overworked and underpaid masses liked T.R.'s reformer image and he translated that momentum into taking a role as New York Police Commissioner.  There, he fought to clean up the most corrupt police force in the country that were enmeshed in bribe and protection rackets and filled with officers who slept on the job and hung out in bars while on duty.  Roosevelt installed many institutions such as phones in stations, bicycle squads, horse drawn paddy wagons, a standardized pistol, yearly marksmanship and physical testing while bringing women and Jewish citizens into the force for the first time.  But again, all of this was not enough.  Roosevelt needed a new challenge, a swing at the big leagues on the national and global level.

Having always had an affinity for the Naval Forces and already written a book on the subject, another fortuitous event would befall Mr. Roosevelt.  He went to work for the Navy Department under a boss who had seen much in war and vacationed often.  T.R. used his bosses absence to push through several agendas that supported his opinion that the United States must always be ready for war and he would create one if one weren't on the horizon.  Only through war and show of force could America take it's place as a true world power.  From here he would find himself second in command of a volunteer army dubbed The Rough Riders who invaded Cuba in retaliation to the sinking of The Maine.  T.R.'s successful campaigns and hill charges resulted in his promotion to Colonel and a nomination for the Medal Of Honor.  Top brass however were sick of T.R.'s headlines and he was passed over by the War Department.

His four months of service complete, Theodore Roosevelt headed back to New York where another bunch of misfits needed some shaping up, the New York Republicans.  They needed a candidate for governor and T.R. was just the man for it.  His call to the big leagues had arrived.  But his run as governor was just a warm up to his role as Vice President and eventually President.  And we all know how that went, his face is carved into a mountain so somebody thought he did a good job.  So whenever you're feeling overwhelmed or unchallenged, just think of Theodore Roosevelt and go punch the bear of life straight in the nose because he was a leader, an example and most important of all, a Doer!

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