President Theodore Roosevelt gave a presentation to youngsters today in the East Room of the Nixon Library, where he spoke about his time in elected office as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, and tenure as the 26th President of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt’s chat with youngsters was the second in a summer-long series Meet the Presidents, presented by the Nixon Foundation. Each features interactive presentations by a different American President, Q&A sessions with the children, photo opportunities, coloring time, and punch and cookies as a special treat.
President Roosevelt began by offering some wise advice: “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.” He spoke about his admiration for his father, who inspired the young and sickly Theodore by building him a gym to improve his health. Persevering through personal tragedies and challenging times, he encouraged the audience to fight all their lives for important causes that they hold dear. He was sworn into the Presidency in 1901 following the assassination of President William McKinley and his time in office is remembered as one of the most progressive of the 20th century.
President Roosevelt told the large crowd, “I believe the presidency should be the great bully pulpit to work for democracy for the American people.”
As such, Roosevelt told the children how he had instituted a series of unheard of initiatives geared to improve American life, including the Food and Drug Act and vast conservation of natural resources, including allocating over 100 million acres for national parks. He approved construction of the Panama Canal and was the first President to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The President told the children, “Nobody enjoyed being President as much as I did.” Roosevelt even spoke about his post-Presidential life, including an assassination attempt that seriously wounded him, reflecting, “It takes a lot to kill a Bull-Moose!”
Throughout the presentation, TR mesmerized the crowd, bringing dozens of children up to the stage, doing group exercises and marching them around as Rough Riders. During the question and answer session, one youngster asked how Roosevelt had gotten into politics, and he answered that his charitable father had inspired him “to help the public.”
Whitney Banks, a youngster of Butterfield Ranch Elementary School in Chino Hills, commented that the presentation “was good. I really liked marching around.”
Similarly, eight-year-old Hayley Johnson of Our Lady of Guadalupe School said that her favorite part was “when he made us exercise!”
Young Nolan Majias and his cousin Braden Wetzel, both set to start Kindergarten next year, gave the presentation two thumbs up.
Bring your youngsters Tuesday, July 20 to meet Thomas Jefferson, the third President featured in our Meet the Presidents series.