Theodore Roosevelt may deserve the title of America’s most physically active president. He became famous as the fearless leader of the rough riders, a volunteer regiment composed of cowboys, sheriffs, Native Americans, and policemen who charged up a fortified hill to win an impossible battle in the Spanish-American war. He was also known for literally riding out his troubles in the American West, spending up to 9 hours a day in the saddle. While out West, Theodore spent his time hunting buffalo, antelope, bears and outlaws. Very few could match his endurance and strength. During a campaign speech in 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest. Displaying his bloody shirt to the crowd he declared: “it takes more than that to kill a bull moose” and refused to seek medical help until he had completed his 90 minute speech. It sometimes seemed that Theodore Roosevelt was superhuman in strength.
But did you know Roosevelt was born sickly and underweight? Throughout his childhood he suffered from life threatening bouts of asthma. His parents took him to doctors all over the world, but no one was able to help him. His health was so poor that he was kept home from school and tutored by governesses.
When Roosevelt was thirteen he was given an eye exam. His family discovered that apart from his many illnesses, he was also extremely near sighted. This was a disappointment to his beloved Father, who believed strongly in the importance of physical strength and vigor. Theodore’s father sat him down for a chat: "You have the mind but you have not the body. You must make your body."
From that day on, Theodore Roosevelt determined to “make his body.”
Roosevelt never gave up on his commitment to strengthen himself. He began to practice boxing, hiking, and riding regularly. He created difficult fitness routines and practiced in a gym every single day. Gradually his body grew stronger and stronger. When he was sixteen years old he entered a field day competition and took home 14 of the 15 trophies. He worked and worked. By the time he finished college, he was known as a champion rower and boxer.
Theodore Roosevelt never stopped building and strengthening his body. Even during his political career he was known to take the time to train in boxing and martial arts. He called it a “strenuous life” and made sure that his entire family lived it to the fullest. From setting aside millions of acres to conserve the American wilderness to busting forty-four of the most corrupt monopolies in the history of business, Roosevelt handled every challenge in life and the presidency with the same confident stride that he used to tackle his physical weakness.
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.” -Theodore Roosevelt
By: Susanna Olson
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...