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Profile of A Great American

Posted on Friday, August 20, 2021
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles

Where are future leaders? Those who will run, lead, and who love America? Those who will put personal pain, risk, and opportunity to the side and serve our nation? They live among us, as they always have – but must be encouraged, inspired to step up, reaffirmed, reminded they are not alone.

As a boy, he spent time in the Maine woods, became an avid outdoorsman, loved to observe nature, shoot, and stuff birds. But he was sickly, often suddenly confined to bed – ailment uncertain. His mother worried over him; he loved her. His father worried quietly; he loved his father.

By good fortune, he got into Harvard. The doctor told him – you have a bad heart and asthma, must lead a sedentary life.

Never tell a man of conviction what he must do, what he cannot do. He joined the boxing team, began riding horses, decided to risk it all – and build himself up.

He fell in love with a girl named Alice. Just when things seemed promising, his father – whom he adored – died, age 46. He was crushed. He graduated, married Alice, and a year later, they were expecting a baby. He began Columbia Law School, began serving in the New York legislature, fighting corruption.

In childbirth, Alice died. The same day, his mother died typhoid.

Crushed again, he headed west. Bad eyesight, he took several dozen pairs of glasses. Having gotten stronger physically, he resolved to get stronger emotionally. He rode every day, became a cowpuncher, worked to exhaustion, rose at dawn to do the same again – and never talked of Alice. Ever.

Time passed.

Friends and family reminded him that principled leadership was rare; he was needed. He returned east, became a police commissioner – head of the New York City Police Commission, then fired 10,000 officers, demanding they pass a moral and physical test.

He infuriated the establishment, cared not, turned into the wind. Catching President McKinley’s attention, he was made Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a post he resigned to lead Harvard and rough-cut westerners in support a free Cuba. Imagine a free Cuba!

His wife and closest friends wanted him far from danger; he resisted. God spared him in combat, for which he later won the Congressional Medal of Honor, only see him return and win New York’s governorship, then have McKinley ask him to serve as vice presidential candidate, when then-vice president Garret Hobart died in office – of a heart attack, like the one that boy’s doctor had dreaded.

Now, the clock spun.

This young man was despised by the corrupt New York establishment, which made him popular. Suddenly, as often happens in history, lightning. McKinley was assassinated. Now, the boy who loved Maine, North Dakota, birds, horses, combat, and America – was president.

What is the point, and who was this “never say never” patriot? This boy who boxed and rode because he was told not to? Dared and did for principle, who loved and lost, then loved again, had four sons, one of whom was first on the Beaches of Normandy, also won the Congressional Medal of Honor?

Point? A sickly boy, who loved his country, who determined he could and should and would make a difference, rallied against adversity, lifted his body, heart, and soul to serve – and won the day.

The boy who loved birds ended up creating more national parks than anyone before or since, Maine to Washington State. The boy who loved strength, principle, America, and Navy – created the Great White Fleet, ended the Russo-Japanese war, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The boy who was told by mother, father, and friends, “go do it, you have it, you can – and we need you,” did just that. He rose to defend his family, state, nation, and ultimately to lead the world, taking America to a position of global leadership never relinquished, if also never imagined.

Here is the point:

Even today, we have among us good, principled, courageous, honest, daring young people and those who can – this minute – step up to lead. We have had them in every era, time of need, and have them now. We must encourage them, those around us, to step up for America – now.

And who was that boy – who loved Maine, North Dakota, and America? Young Theodore Roosevelt, a can-do, brash, invariably intrepid Republican, who loved family, God, and mission, above all, America. May his example light our way – and lift those around us to heights. If there was ever a time, this is it.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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2 years ago

Excellent article and much needed. God bless America with a strong and confident real leader. Thank you Mr. Charles.

2 years ago

RBC, thanks for this article. The biggest key for this story is GOD. He uses the weak to complete strong endeavors in his name. He continues to enlighten those who follow him to do his will. In TR’s day, God was in the equation. Today, there are the young people that can serve if they step up, they will need to place their heart and trust in God and use his guidance and wisdom to complete their assignments for him.

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