Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), our 26th president was well-known for his strength of leadership, tenacity, and personal discipline. He was only 42 years of age. Historians credit him for changing the nation’s political system by making character of a person is as important as the issue they speak to.
A recent family visit to Medora, ND had me thinking about Theodore Roosevelt (I hear he despised the name Teddy). Roosevelt is one of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore.
He had first visited our state of North Dakota as a young man at the recommendation of his physician to rest for the sake of his heart condition. Young Roosevelt came out to the southwestern corner of the state and became more engulfed in his interests of government, and conservation. He eventually returned to politics in New York and married at the age of 22 (1881).
However in 1884, his wife and his mother died on the same day. His daughter was only a 2 day old baby. He enlisted relatives to care for his young child and Theodore went west, to reflect. He temporarily left politics and went to the frontier, becoming a rancher in the “Badlands”. He had built a ranch called the Elkhorn, 35 miles north of tiny Medora, ND nestled on the banks of the Little Missouri. It is there he rebuilt his life, jumped deeply into the cowboy mentality of survival through personal strength and where a man’s integrity and honesty are foremost in character. He read, thought, and wrote his way back to society.
In North Dakota, he experienced another life catastrophe, which was a series of high plains winter blizzards that all but wiped out some of the wealthiest men in the region. Theodore moved back to the city ready to return to politics in 1886.
He went on to live life at its fullest as only a man of his character could and would. He always credited his time in North Dakota as life-changing. Lessons learned on the prairie and through life’s trials and hardships gave him courage, strength and endurance to continue to believe in your ideals and principles.
Several of his more well-known statements reflect his strength of character;
“Anyone can give up; it is the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart… that’s true strength.”
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.”