Teddy Roosevelt still inspires


“I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being.”

— President Theodore Roosevelt

In recent months, I have bumped into a great number of President Teddy Roosevelt quotes while reading or listening to media reports.

Teddy Roosevelt, born into great wealth in New York in 1858, was a sickly child who conceivably could have coasted through life on his family’s abundance. Instead, he pledged to rise above his severe illness and physical weaknesses from an early age, saying he was going to be a cowboy and rancher.

He kept both promises to himself, ranching and riding in the great frontier that was the Wild West. He lived every day of that time with gusto, enjoying every moment of rugged, hard-charging work.

He has been quoted in all sorts of colorful ways on this subject, but in essence, he said that when his backside became tired, his body worn down, it was time to retreat and heal for a time. Again, he could have returned home to a pampered life, but instead wished to find a way to serve his country.

In a matter of fairly short time in public service, he became vice-president to our 25th U.S. President, William McKinley from Ohio. When McKinley was taken down by a handshake with an assassin concealing a gun, Teddy Roosevelt became the youngest president at age 43.

Some great Roosevelt quotes worth sharing

On courage: “A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”

Perhaps the Teddy Roosevelt quote that garners the most attention of late is this one, on personal patriotism:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

Roosevelt did not fawn over material things. On success, he said, “It is a bad thing for a nation to raise and to admire a false standard of success; and there can be no falser standard than that set by the deification of material well-being in and for itself.”

On personal involvement: “To sit home, read one’s favorite paper, and scoff at the misdeeds of the men who do things is easy, but it is markedly ineffective. It is what evil men count upon the good men’s doing.”

On critics: “It is not the critic who counts. … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”


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