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Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial

The National memorial to our 26th President is located on an island in the middle of the Potomac River. The Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial is maintained by the National Park Service, and is  part of the nearby George Washington Memorial Parkway.  It is  located near the western end of the Mount Vernon Trail (MAP), and is accessible by a footbridge from Virginia on the western bank of the Potomac River.  The land is generally maintained as a natural park, with various trails and a memorial plaza.

Roosevelt Island is a teardrop-shaped, 88.5-acre island that features various hiking trails and a memorial with a plaza featuring a statue of Roosevelt.  The land is land is generally maintained as a nature preserve.  One of Theodore Roosevelt’s greatest legacies was his dedication to conservation.  Today, this island stands as a fitting memorial to the outdoorsman, naturalist, visionary, explorer, historian, and politician.

In 1931, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the island with the intention of erecting a memorial honoring Roosevelt.  Congress authorized the memorial in May of that year, but did not appropriate funds for the memorial for almost three decades.  Funds were finally designated by Congress in 1960.  As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the national memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the listing first appeared on October 15, 1966.

The memorial was dedicated on October 27, 1967, and includes a 17-foot statue, four large granite monoliths with some of Roosevelt’s more famous quotations, and a water feature with two large fountains.  On the eastern and western ends of the memorial are two arched footbridges that lead over the water feature to 2 1/2 miles of foot trails and boardwalks that wind through the swamp, marsh and forest areas of the park.

The National Memorial includes a 17-foot statue, a water feature with two large fountains, and a central plaza.  On the eastern and western ends of the plaza are two arched footbridges that lead over the water feature to 2 1/2 miles of foot trails and boardwalks that wind through the swamp, marsh and forest areas of the park.

Surrounding the perimeter of the memorial plaza are four large granite monoliths.  Carved into the monoliths are some of Roosevelt’s more famous quotations.  The quotes are divided into four categories entitled Manhood, Nature, The State, and Youth.  The wisdom of the man imparted by these quotes from the memorial (see below) provide an understanding of the diverse and complex nature of the man to whom the memorial is dedicated.

MANHOOD •  A man’s usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals in so far as he can. (A Letter to Dr. Sturgis Bigelow, March 29, 1898) •  It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. (The Strenuous Life, 1900) •  All daring and courage, all iron endurance of misfortune make for a finer and nobler type of manhood. (Address to Naval War College, June 2, 1897) •  Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die: and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. (The Great Adventure, 1918)

NATURE   •  There is delight in the hardy life of the open. (African Game Trails, 1910)  •  There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. (African Game Trails, 1910)  •  The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. (The New Nationalism, 1910)  •  Conservation means development as much as it does protection. (The New Nationalism, 1910)

THE STATE   •  Ours is a government of liberty by, through, and under the law. (Speech at Spokane, WA, May 26, 1903)  •  A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy. (The New Nationalism, 1910)  •  Order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive. (Miscellaneous Writings, c. 1890s)  •  In popular government results worth having can be achieved only by men who combine worthy ideals with practical good sense. (Address at Harvard Union, Feb. 23, 1907)  •  If I must choose between righteousness and peace I choose righteousness. (America and the World War, 1915)

YOUTH  •  I want to see you game, boys, I want to see you brave and manly, and I also want to see you gentle and tender. (Address at Friends School, Washington, DC, May 24, 1907)  •  Be practical as well are generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground. (Speech at Prize Day Exercises at Groton School, Groton, MA, May 24 1904)  •  Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all essential to successful life. (America and the World War, 1915)  •  Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character. (American Ideals, 1897)

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