World War I: Biographies--Theodore Roosevelt

Figure 1.--Former President Roosevelt was an early advocate for America's entry into World War I. Once America entered the War, all of his sons enlosted and served with destinction. Tragically his youngest son Quintin who served as a fighter pilot was shot down over France.

Many American presidents have served in the military or as president overseen wars. Most except for Polk have taken the country to war reluctantly. Few had any romantic notions about war. Theodore Rosevelt did have such notions and he wrote glowingly of war. At the outbreak of World War I he expressed sympathy with the Allies and denounced the neutrality policy of President Wilson. As the War progressed, Roosevelt became a pasionate advovate for America entering the War on the Allied side. He was apauled by the revelations of the Zimmerman telegram and the sinking of the Lisutania. He called President Wilson a "coward" for keeping America neutral. When America finally entered the War, Roosevelt tried to enlist, but Wilson refused to let him participate in any official capacity. The former President denied the opportunity to participate in the World War I effort had to watch his four sons, Theodore Jr. Kermit, Archibald and Quentin, head off to war in his stead.All his sons enlisted and served with destinction. Teddy Jr, Archibald, and Kermit were all wounded. Teddy Jr joined up again in World War II and died after leading the Utah Beach operation at Normandy. Quentin was a fighter pilot. Tragedy struck the Roosevelts as so many families. One day T.R. wrote Quentin sadly: "I putter around like the other old frumps, trying to help with the Liberty Loan and Red Cross and such like." Another day word came back to Sagamore Hill that Quentin, a pilot, aged 21 had been shot down over the trenches and killed. This was the boy that the president called "dear little Quintikins". His father, grievously afflicted, wrote this tribute to his son: "Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joys of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are part of the same Great Adventure." Roosevelt was never quite the same after Quintin's death.


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Created: February 4, 2001
Last updated: October 22, 2003