October 14, 2010

They Don't Make Them Like Teddy Anymore

I've sometimes wondered if Teddy Roosevelt deserved to be immortalized next to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln in the granite of Mt Rushmore.

It's always seemed like he may have benefited from the tendency toward recentness in "best of" lists. But, this week I ran across two stories from Octobers past that are starting to change my mind. In fact, if I keep finding things like this I may rename this blog, "The Roosevelt Chronicles."

Story #1: Teddy's First Flight
Teddy Roosevelt's First Airplane Flight

On 11 October 1910, just a few years after the Wright Brother's first successful heavier-than-air human flight, while visiting a flying exhibition in St Louis, Roosevelt was invited to take a ride with Archie Hoxsey, a Wright aviator. Roosevelt accepted the invitation, hopped into the plane (well, OK, as this video on the Library of Congress website shows, he struggled his way through all the lines and guy-wires that held the thing together) and took a couple of loops around the field.

While in the air, Roosevelt was so excited and waved so enthusiastically to the crowd that "Hoxsey was afraid he would fall out or interfere with the engine, which was roaring at his side," and had to shout to tell "the Colonel" to calm down.

The crowd was stunned silent during the flight, but erupted into cheers once the plane landed.

When the flight was over and Roosevelt was on the ground again, he shook Hoxsey's hand vigorously and said, "It was great! First class! It was the finest experience I have had. I wish I could stay up for an hour, but I haven't the time this afternoon."

Story #2: Roosevelt, Shot While Campaigning, Gives Speech with Bullet in Chest
Teddy Roosevelt Shot While Campaigning - Gives His Speach Anyway

While on his way to a campaign speech in Milwaukee on 14 October 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest by John Schrank who apparently didn't like the idea of Roosevelt running for a third term.

The assailant was subdued and brought to Roosevelt who asked him to explain himself. When Schrank didn't reply, Roosevelt headed off to the auditorium and spoke for an hour and a half.

Following his speech, Roosevelt, "weak from loss of blood," was taken to the hospital where an x-ray revealed the bullet lodged near his lung.

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