Like all presidents, Theodore Roosevelt is not without his problematic features. While I believe we need to hold these men accountable, I also believe that we can admire aspects of their lives without letting them off the proverbial hook.
For Roosevelt, I greatly admire his ability to remake himself physically and emotionally after the illness and tragedy he experienced as a child and a young man. He transformed himself from an asthmatic who was advised to avoid a life of activity into the symbol of the "strenuous life." He overcame the light going out of his life when his mother and wife died on the same day, events that would have destroyed most people. This was a man who refused to let adversity hold him back from achieving great things.
Of all his many quotes, the one I hold most dear, and keep on my desk at work, is as follows:
"Get action. Do things; be sane; don't fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action."
I try to remember these words and apply them to my life on a daily basis. Some days I fail; other days I succeed. But I always find them encouraging and inspiring, and I'm grateful to have discovered them from a man I admire.