JANUARY 6, 1944
NEW YORK, Wednesday—January 6, 1944, marks the 25th anniversary of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt's death. There is a poem written by his sister, the late Mrs. Douglas Robinson, called "Valiant for Truth" which I think many people would find profitable to read again on this day.
But I want to recall the great contribution which I feel that he made to the young people while living. I think it has a special bearing on the problems which we face in the present day. Theodore Roosevelt never failed to convey to young people that he believed they should take an active part in the public affairs of their community and of their nation. He thought every man and woman faced first their family responsibilities, but he was quick to point out that these could not be faced fully without recognizing the tie that the family had to the community and the obligation that each member of the family could discharge only by being a good citizen of that community.
Many of us are apt to think of government activities as something quite apart from our daily lives. Theodore Roosevelt made you feel that every act in your daily life was a part of your citizenship. I am sure that today he would preach to young people their obligation actively to participate in the government of their community, of the nation and of the world, and the necessity for bringing their influence to bear as individuals and as members of any groups.
He believed that every man had an obligation, if he were physically able, to carry arms in times of war but he believed no less in the obligation of every man and woman to discharge obligations as citizens at all times. If they could take public office, he thought they had an obligation to do it. If they could not take public office, he thought they had an obligation to do all that they could in the interests of the public good. He had very little patience with those who kept aloof from public life because they disliked criticism or might have to deal with disagreeable situations. He had very little patience with those who wished to advance their own personal fortunes, regardless of the fortunes of the American citizens as a whole.
Many of us have forgotten that his interest in the American people generally, brought him the accusation of being a traitor to his class—an accusation which other people have suffered under during the course of our history.
Theodore Roosevelt's life should be remembered by young people, for it will encourage them to enter into the arena where public questions are threshed out, in spite of the fact that they will have to take some pretty disagreeable mud slinging and verbal castigation at times.
As I look back I think perhaps the inspiration which Theodore Roosevelt gave to young people was one of his enduring contributions, not only to the youth of his generation, but to the youth of all generations.