After spending ten days in New York City, the sense of peacefulness and calm that greeted us as we got off the bus in Oyster Bay was wonderful.  You could hear the birds singing, watch the leaves blow in the wind, smell the scents from flowers and trees, and just relish in nature and space.  I certainly needed that after the chaos, noise, smells, and density of New York City.

The strongest impression I got from visiting Sagmore Hill was how much of a family man Theodore Roosevelt was – he strongly believed that home, wife, and children are the things that counted in life.  The second thing that struck me was the fact that Roosevelt’s boys all volunteered for military service in World War I. How many of today’s politicians support and take pride in the fact that their children help to serve our country?  Very few, if any….today’s military is composed of the poorer Americans answering the call to service and seeing the military as a way to advance their lives, and that of their children.

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I found the home and grounds to be nicer than Hyde Park.  The single generational home was warmer and more personalized than Hyde Park – it felt like it had been lived in, not just a museum.  The wood work was beautifully done as well as the stained glass found throughout the house.  One could imagine sounds and sight of the Roosevelt children and cousins running rampant through the house and out into the yard and property.  The Roosevelts placed a high importance on reading, learning, and physical activity.  All members of the household, and guests, were expected to read a book each day.  The day’s reading was to be a conversation starter at the nightly 5 p.m. dinner table.  Those who did not complete this task, or who were  more than ten minutes late for dinner, ate with the servants in the kitchen at 6 p.m.; again this included both guests as well as members of the household.

While I only teach up to Reconstruction, there are some tie-ins I could do with TR.  One possibility is his strong ties to Lincoln.  Another possibility is the creation of the National Park system….that would correspond to Earth Day or National Parks Day.  But another very strong possibility is TR’s words of wisdom….he had a lot of great thoughts that could be inspiring to students; bits of wisdom can always be added into history lessons.

Theodore Roosevelt was born into a family of wealth and privilidge, but with that, came the understanding of helping out mankind.  TR’s father was a founding member and supporter of many of New York City’s premier institutions like the Historical Society and Natural History Museum.  Roosevelt took on factory work issues, as his Square Deal dealt with the evils of industrialism.  He attacked bigg business and broke up Monopolies.  He was also a peacemaker, helping to end the Russo/Japanese War, becoming the first American to receive the Nobel Peace prize.  His daughter summed up her father by saying, “He wanted to be the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral.”  Theodore Roosevelt thrived on being the center of attention and taking on daunting tasks for the betterment of mankind and for the natural world as well.