After a heroic battle charge during the Spanish-American War, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt decided to swim 300 yards out to a ship wreck for fun. While swimming with one other Rough Rider, a group of sharks materialized. The future President merely shrugged it off and told his companion not to worry because he had read that sharks don’t bother swimmers. The life of Theodore Roosevelt is truly incomprehensible. The Pulitzer Prize-Winning biography, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, is 742 pages and only covers his life up to 43 years of age. He read on average 1-3 books a day while simultaneously being President of the United States (over 10,000 books in his lifetime). Not only did he read, but Teddy published 38 books, many becoming highly esteemed textbooks (The Naval War of 1812 as one example). On his honeymoon to Europe he decided it be fun to climb Matterhorn (at the time, only a few individuals had accomplished this multi-day feat).
Teddy began his life as a very sickly child who had chronic bouts of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. He loved the outdoors and could be found classifying animals and practicing taxidermy. In a healthy state, his energy was infinite-If he grew up in our era of ADD/ADHD medication, he would be an over-prescribed walking zombie. I believe that his regular bouts of illness motivated him to experience as much as possible while he was not bed ridden. While at Harvard, his doctor told him to avoid exertion, otherwise he would die an early death. Good old Teddy ignored this advice believing that a stagnant life would be the equivalent of a life six feet under. This drive for adventure led him to the booming West, where he regularly hunted large game, ranched in harsh conditions, and lived the life of a real cowboy. His ability to actually enjoy uncomfortable conditions is truly amazing. He was described to be smiling, with his iconic big teeth, after several excruciating ordeals of hunting trips while his friends were half dead from the unforgiving bad lands of the Dakotas.
Roosevelt’s relentless energy, along with his uncompromising morals are what made him an extremely effective politician. He worked his way up the ranks of New York and Washington politics by sticking to his social principles and not the principles of the corrupt industrial-political machine. He was a Republican but made decisions for the betterment of the country as a whole. Industrial lobbyist paid the corrupt “Republican Machine” over 1 billion dollars to remove Roosevelt from the position of New York Governor (where he was very powerful in reform legislation) to Vice President (where he had little power whatsoever). I truly emulate Teddy Roosevelt and wish that there were more politicians like him in today’s government. A politician should put party politics aside and put the good of the country first and foremost. As for me, I wish to live a full life like Teddy and go about everyday with determination. A life of principles and purpose has no equal and Theodore Roosevelt has helped me to see what a life like that truly looks like.
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground”