Teddy Roosevelt: Brazen commander, friend of Jews

If I had to choose my favorite president in America’s history, it would have to be, for  many reasons, Theodore Roosevelt.
Henry Pringle’s biography of Roosevelt was the first presidential life story I read as a child. I became endeared to Teddy when I read of his severe childhood asthma attacks and how his father carried him to their horse carriage. They rode late at night through the downtown New York streets in an attempt to force the cool night air into his lungs.
That scene reminded me of when I, also as a  child, gasping for air in my first frightening asthma attack, was picked up by my father. I was hurriedly carried to a doctor’s office to receive the life-saving relief of an  epinephrine (adrenaline) shot, something which did not exist in Roosevelt’s time.
Encouraged by his father, Roosevelt took on physical exercises and activities which helped increase his lung capacity and body strength, eventually overcoming what could have been a life-long health problem.
I  also hold Roosevelt in great esteem for his love of country and strong support for the development of a powerful modern  Navy.
As Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, with deteriorating relations with Spain over the future of Cuba, he foresaw a looming war on the horizon.
While his boss, the Navy Secretary, was on an extended vacation, TR took advantage of his absence to brazenly assume the position of Acting Secretary of the Navy, ordering additional supplies, fuel and firepower to  be sent to America’s Pacific Fleet.
In addition, he managed to transfer one  of the Navy’s most successful leaders, Commodore George Dewey, from a desk  job in Washington, D.C. to Commander of   America’s Asiatic Fleet near the Spanish controlled Philippines.
By the time war broke out with Spain in 1898, Commodore Perry was in place with a fully supplied fleet, attacking and destroying every enemy ship in Manila Bay.
In later years as President, Roosevelt wanted to  demonstrate to imperialist nations that  the United States had a powerful navy, capable of protecting its shipping lanes  anywhere in the world.
With hulls painted white, 16 new battleships and their tenders left in December 1907, for a successful fourteen-month circumnavigation of the globe. The experience had a positive  impact on the future of fleet operations and ship design, and provided excellent  experience for all involved. It definitely  impressed the rest of the world and helped prepare our nation for the war ahead.
Because of the enthusiastic support which Roosevelt provided the U.S. Navy throughout his career, the Navy League of the United States, in 1922, designated today, Oct. 27 his birthday, as Navy Day. If you are lucky enough to know a Navy veteran, wish him or her a “Happy Navy Day.”
Finally, let us look at Roosevelt and the Jews. In 1903, he sent his personal protest along with a public petition to the czar, objecting to the Kishinev pogroms, but the Russian despot completely ignored it.
Roosevelt was the first president to appoint a Jew, Oscar Straus, to a cabinet post (U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor).
After World War I, as the popular ex-president, he spoke out in favor of Jews being given control of Palestine.
You do not have to be Jewish to think highly of Roosevelt. Every legitimate ‘Top Ten  Presidents’ list I  have found, and rightfully  so, includes the name, Theodore Roosevelt.

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