After a difficult week, it’s time for some inspiration from a real fighter, President Theodore Roosevelt. This post is for our readers as well as for me. Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena has always encouraged me during times of trial. But before I post the quote, I want you to consider a few brief items from the Rough Rider’s life.
On Valentine’s Day 1884, Theodore Roosevelt comforted his wife as she lay dying from kidney failure. In one day incredible joy had transformed into dire tragedy. The 26 year old politician had returned home after learning that his wife had given birth to their first child. While his wife was fighting for her life, his mother lay downstairs battling the final stages of typhoid fever. Although his new born daughter was healthy, his wife and mother would die that day.
Alone and broken, Roosevelt left politics. He moved to the great American West seeking a new life. He was searching for a reason to go on. Teddy Roosevelt found solace as a rancher and as an outdoorsman in the badlands of the Dakota Territory. While living in the American badlands, he witnessed the end of the American frontier. But Chris Kyle hits it right on the money in his book American Gun when he states:
‘In a few short years living in the West, Roosevelt became an authentic cowboy-rancher. He tamed bucking broncos, drove a thousand head of cattle on a six-day trail ride, punched out a cowboy in a saloon fight, and faced down Indian warriors. In 1886, with an 1876 Winchester in hand, he tracked and captured three desperadoes in the wilderness and marched them forty miles to face justice.’ Theodore Roosevelt was a working man’s politician and a true civic leader.
And you probably know the rest of the story. Having found his way in the West, Roosevelt returned to politics in New York. He started a new family. Theodore fought to clean up corruption in the New York City police department. He next accepted an appointment as the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy. When war came he resigned his post and formed the famous Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry unit. He led the Rough Riders in the charge of Kettle Hill with the ultimate defeat of the Spanish Army in the battle for San Juan Heights. In short, his famous The Man in the Arena came from his heart and not from the mind of a well paid speech writer. So without further hesitation, I give you:
The Man in the Arena Download Citizenship in a Republic Speech
Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who ‘but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.’
- Theodore Roosevelt, Excerpt from the speech Citizenship In A Republic delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910.
- Note: The quotation on Roosevelt’s western exploits is from Chris Kyle, American Gun (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013), p. 111.