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The Other Faces on Mount Rushmore

Photo copyright 2019 by Budgie Sarver

Quiz: What four presidents’ faces are carved on Mount Rushmore? If you’re like most of us you guessed George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but stumbled over the last two.

The third president on Mount Rushmore is Theodore Roosevelt. I was fascinated as I researched this unique man. And, I discovered I had been mispronouncing his name all these years. According to a source which quoted him, he said his last name was “pronounced as if it was spelled Rosavelt. That is in three syllables. The first syllable as if it was ‘Rose.’”

He disliked being called “Teddy,” preferring Theodore, or Colonel after his stint in the Spanish-American War.

Plagued with asthma as a child, Roosevelt overcame his affliction with vigorous exercise. As a young adult he traveled out west and lived as a cowboy, showing critics that educated men could indeed have callouses on their hands.

Roosevelt was homeschooled and described as “energetic and mischievously inquisitive.”

He liked science and biology, which played out later in life, when as President he established the US Forest Service and established five national parks.

If you enjoy pure food and medicine, you can thank this 26th president. After Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle exposed evils in the food industry, Roosevelt pushed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act.

One of the colonel's famous achievements was his participation in the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his charge up San Juan Hill, where he led his unit across open ground while surrounded by enemy fire.

A colorful, energetic lifestyle accompanied Roosevelt wherever he went.

Whether hunting big game in Africa (he donated the game to a museum), establishing game preserves to protect wildlife, charting new territories in other countries or writing books, he approached life with a robust, enthusiastic vigor.

Due to his vitality, Roosevelt survived a bullet in the chest during a speech in Milwaukee, when a spectator shot him. He declined immediate medical help and finished the 90-minute speech. Doctors later determined it would be dangerous to operate, so Roosevelt carried the bullet within him the rest of his life.

When Roosevelt died in his sleep at age 60, the vice-president under Woodrow Wilson said, “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight.”

Well-spoken words to honor a truly remarkable man. It’s no wonder his face has been memorialized on Mount Rushmore.

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