JULY 13, 1949
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I have said nothing about the fact that the trustees of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association are planning to buy Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, Long Island, from the heirs and open it as a national shrine to the public. I imagine this means that the Theodore Roosevelt children are willing to leave many of the things that relate to their illustrious father and mother in the house. This would surely be a most interesting contribution and a visit to the house would show the public a good example of its period and provide an idea from the things in the old trophy room of the variety of interests that made Theodore Roosevelt the extraordinarily interesting, colorful and able individual that he was.
Sometimes we forget today that he had the courage even to disagree with his own party. He founded the Bull Moosers, and though he did not win he made a campaign that was most enlightening to many people within our country. He did not only preach the "strenuous life," much as he believed in it, but he showed by his actions that he believed in the strenuous upholdings of the principles in which he believed. I always look back upon the few contacts I had with him as a child as broadening and stimulating, and I know that his influence over the young men of my husband's era was largely responsible for their sense of public responsibility.
During his life he was accused of betraying his class, but that happens to almost all men who have a social conscience. Theodore Roosevelt not only had a very keen social conscience but he knew history very well and used it in interpreting the happenings of his day. That is really the important thing about history. If you do not draw from it the lessons that help you interpret the happenings of the present day more clearly, then you might just as well be without the knowledge of the past, which many of us think is one of the most valuable assets to a man who has to carry responsibility in public office today.
The view from Sagamore Hill could give even Theodore Roosevelt, who loved wide-open spaces, a sense of the greatness of the nation which he served. I am glad there will be people going from the grove, which has been visited by so many thousands during the past years, up the hill into this house to think about a man who greatly influenced our history. He should never be forgotten, particularly by the young people of the nation because it is for them that he has the greatest attraction. They will love the spirit of adventure that took him to far parts of the world after he left the White House. They will love him as a Rough Rider and as a reformer.
The young will sense in Theodore Roosevelt the spirit that was ahead of his time in many ways. One cannot become more familiar with him as an individual, as well as a public servant, without becoming at the same time a better citizen of the United States. My thanks and good wishes go to the trustees of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association in their new undertaking.