Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Theodore Roosevelt's Family in the Great War

Theodore Roosevelt's Family in the Great War. Describes the war service of each member of the family, including an account of Roosevelt's reaction to the news of his son Quentin's death in 1918.

From the site:

Teddy Roosevelt's children grew up in the glow of Roosevelt's crowded hour. (In his father's office at the White House, 10-year-old Quentin Roosevelt brandished his father's sword from the Cuban campaign, shouting "Step up and see the i-d-e-n-t-i-c-a-l sword carried by Colonel Thee-a-dore Roos-evelt in the capture of San Juan Hill. See it! See it!" Swinging the sword through the air, the boy opened a cut on the cheek of his friend Charlie Taft, son of Theodore Roosevelt's Secretary of War William Howard Taft.)

All of the boys in their time tromped the grounds of Sagamore Hill and the White House, re enacting the battle at San Juan Ridge.All the Roosevelt children -- most especially the sons -- either absorbed or inherited his reckless, all-or-nothing approach to hazards. As David McCullough reminds us with reference to the Roosevelts, the pediatric psychologist Margaret McPharland says attitudes are caught more than they are taught. With this in mind, we may say Theodore Roosevelt's sons most certainly caught both his attraction to warfare and his egalitarian ethic.

Throughout World War I, Ted Jr. would be alternately praised and criticized as an officer who routinely and boldly moved ahead of the line in battle after battle. In each of the world wars, he was at once idolized by his men, with whom he shared all dangers, and criticized by career officers, who respected Ted's bravery more than they did his judgment. The same officers also sometimes found themselves reprimanding him for insubordination, reminiscent of his father's in '98. Patton, who admired Ted Jr. in many ways, wrote of him: "Great courage, but no soldier."

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