"Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation." Theodore Roosevelt
Imagine a world with no deer in the woods, no birds singing in the trees. Imagine a world with no green grass, no lakes with the sun reflecting off its waves. Imagine the U.S. being a nation that was not considered powerful when compared to other nations.|
All of the above hypothetical situations may have been true if it had not been for the valiant efforts of one conservationist/ political leader. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) fits my definition of hero because he changed the entire nation for the better politically, improved the environment throughout the U.S., and inspired the generations of hunters/conservationists to come to continue his noble work. Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt is probably best known for being the president of the United States around the turn of the century. He revolutionized America.
In 1901, after President William McKinley's assassination, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president at the time to ever take office at the age of 42. He won the respect of American citizens very quickly. Theodore Roosevelt went against all antitrust organizations because he felt they were bad for the economy. This later became part of his "Square Deal" policy, because he wanted everyone to feel treated fairly. This policy prevented and stopped many labor strikes. T.R. also made our army and navy stronger so that we could create an "overseas empire." Later, Roosevelt took control in Panama and began to plan the building of the Panama Canal. After doing all of this, countries began to realize the U.S. was a force to be reckoned with. In 1906, construction of the canal began. Also, Teddy received a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to resolve the Russo-Japanese war. It was obvious that T.R.'s mission was change for the better of the nation. This idea is called Progressivism and it is what T.R. lived by. Throughout his presidency, he made many reforms. In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt lost the Republican vote and ran on the Progressive party ticket. William Taft won the election and took office in 1912. During T.R.'s time as the most powerful man in the nation and his time as a plain civilian, one thing was always on his mind: conservation.
|Theodore Roosevelt |
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was one of the pioneers of conservation. In 1888, he founded the Boone and Crockett club with George Grinnell of the magazine Forest and Stream (now called Field and Stream). This organization led the conservation movement and the Boone and Crockett club still exists today. Just before the turn of the 20th century, there were very few elk left on this continent. This was due to market hunting, where the elk where hunted for their antlers and ivory canine teeth to be sold for profits. There are three species of elk currently existing in North America, the Rocky mountain (most common), the Tule (the smallest elk), and the Roosevelt elk, the largest existing elk that got its name from T.R. In the late 1800's, the population of Tule elk dipped below 5 elk. Not five hundred, five elk. If not for the conservation efforts of Teddy Roosevelt and others, these elk would no longer exist. Now, due to conservation, there are several thousand Tule elk and they are now legal to hunt with limited licenses available each year. Theodore Roosevelt also went on safaris in Africa and brought his ideas of conservation over to the "Dark Continent." Thanks to this, we learned many things about such animals as lions. One example is that we learned not to shoot young male lions and to shoot mature adult lions, which means a 9 year old or older lion. Teddy also inspired others to follow in his footsteps and that is why we have successful wildlife management programs in place today. Today, there are many organizations dedicated to conserving our natural resources such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS), Ducks Unlimited (DU), and many others. This all branches off from the ideas Theodore Roosevelt had about conserving our wildlife and natural resources. There are millions of hunters today who are all conservationists. This is because when a hunter buys a license, the money from that license goes directly towards wildlife conservation. Due to Teddy's work, there are now millions of acres made public to all hunters so that they may work to benefit the environment and enjoy the recreation activity that Teddy himself enjoyed so much. From hunting game birds to carrying his .405 caliber model 1895 Winchester "Big Medicine" after big game in Africa, T.R. always encouraged and enjoyed hunting, conservation, and the great outdoors. This legacy lives on in the form of all the other hunters/conservationists today and in Teddy's great grandson, Theodore Roosevelt IV. T.R.IV co-owns the hunting and shooting sports company Roosevelt and Drake. Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, millions are now educated of the responsibilities we have to conserve our natural resources.
Throughout this look into the life of Theodore Roosevelt the reasons why he is a hero have been told - from his reforms to better the nation as president to saving many game animals on the verge of extinction such as elk. Theodore Roosevelt is a hero because he made political changes for the better of the U.S., contributed to improvement of wildlife quality and quantity in America, and left the blueprint behind to be carried out by generations of conservationists and hunters throughout the world. So next time you see a deer in the woods, or visit a national park and see a majestic elk, or see a mallard duck fly into your backyard from his native wetlands that were undoubtedly established due to conservation efforts, be thankful that Teddy Roosevelt followed his own path and did what he knew was right. Be thankful we have heroes.