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The Fourth with Old Four-Eyes

Recently I had the pleasure of reading about Theodore Roosevelt's adventures in our Badlands.

Hermann Hagedorn's book, "Roosevelt in the Bad Lands," (written in 1920) is available from Amazon for Kindle. It is an exciting account of some truly amazing experiences. Hagedorn's book certainly describes the "wild," in the Wild, Wild West of that time. The work vividly portrays the "characters" of the day. Roosevelt's relationship with the Marquis de Mores is also explored at some length.

When Roosevelt came to the Dakota frontier, he was considered a "four-eyed tenderfoot," another "rich dude" from the east.

His first visit was in search of buffalo, which had become rather scarce. Nonetheless, he displayed a dogged persistence in pursuit of his quarry, to the point of nearly wearing out his guide. Later, when he took up ranching, he worked fiercely alongside his hired cowboys, meeting every challenge the rugged terrain and Mother Nature could throw at them. His hard work and never-quit boldness earned the cowboys' respect. His honesty and fairness earned the esteem of his fellow Bad Lands inhabitants.

Hagedorn's tales were captivating, but I also discovered a gem of oratory in his book.

Roosevelt was invited by the town of Dickinson to speak at their first formal Fourth of July celebration in 1886. The author provides us with some important excerpts from that eloquent speech. The full text is available at the website www.theodore

With the Fourth of July holiday near, I thought the following passages would be particularly relevant to the strained and perilous times of our present day.

"The Declaration of Independence derived its peculiar importance not on account of what America was, but because of what she was to become. ... So it is peculiarly incumbent on us here today to so act throughout our lives as to leave our children a heritage for which we will receive their blessings and not their curses.

"We must remember that the republic can only be kept pure by the individual purity of its members and that if it once becomes thoroughly corrupt it will surely cease to exist.

"In our body politic, each man is himself a constituent portion of the sovereign and; if the sovereign is to continue in power, he must continue to do right. ... 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 just so far corrupting and making less valuable the birthright of your children.

"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 behind him his former nationality and remains neither Celt nor 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."

Thank you Theodore Roosevelt, patriot, president and cowboy, for those inspiring words.