Saturday, April 11, 2009
Words from Teddy Roosevelt
I just finished reading David McCullough's "Mornings on Horseback" about Teddy Roosevelt. It is a wonderful book. In some of the closing pages, David McCullough puts in a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt at a Fourth of July celebration in Dickinson, North Dakota. It expresses how I feel we all need to be as Americans.
". . .It is particularly incumbent on us here today so to act throughout our lives as to leave our children a heritage, for which we will receive their blessing and not their curse. . . . If you fail to work in public life, as well as in private, for honesty and uprightness and virtue, if you condone vice because the vicious man is smart or if you in any other way cast your weight into the scales in favor of evil, you are so far corrupting and making less valuable the birthright of your children. . . .
It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it.
I do not undervalue for a moment our material prosperity; like all Americans, I like big things; big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat fields, railroads--the herds of cattle, too--big factories, steamboats, and everything else. But we must keep in mind that no people were ever yet benefited by riches if their prosperity corrupted their virtue. It is of more importance that we should show ourselves honest, brave, truthful, and intelligent, than that we should own all the railways and grain elevators in the world. We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune. Here we are not ruled over by others. . . we rule ourselves. All American citizens , whether born here or elsewhere, whether of one creed or another, stand on the same footing; we welcome every honest immigrant no matter from what country he comes, provided only that he leaves off his former nationality, and remains neither Celt or Saxon, neither Frenchman nor German, but becomes an American, desirous of fulfilling in good faith the duties of American citizenship.
When we thus rule ourselves, we have the responsibilities of sovereigns, not of subjects. We must never exercise our rights either wickedly or thoughtlessly; we can continue to preserve them in but one possible way, by making the proper use of them. "
God bless America.