“Let’s be honest. You’d be more surprised if I had a kid that DIDN’T go on to do anything worthwhile.”
As we’ve discussed previously in our fun fact regarding Teddy Roosevelt’s surprisingly attractive daughter Alice, Teddy Roosevelt made it his duty to ensure that America had at least 6 carriers of the Teddy Roosevelt gene going around to make the world awesome. Teddy Roosevelt’s children were blessed with advantages that many of us could only dream of. Impressive moustache growing abilities. The strength of five men. The knowledge that it was physically impossible to be bullied during your childhood because every time someone tried to punch you, a mythic force known only as “Roosevelt Waves” would shatter every bone in the hand of the would-be attacker.
While some Roosevelts used this advantage better than others, they all still have given us enough reason to write about each and every one of them as we continue our series of Teddy’s Tots with a fun fact discussing Teddy Roosevelts second oldest child, and his eldest son. All hail the man with the name that could open a thousand doors…
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.: Businessman, Soldier, Politician, Badass American. So, Basically, His Father’s Son.
When you’re born, your name determines a lot of what you’re going to grow up to be, and what is expected of you. If you’re given a name like “Edward” or “Jonathan” your parents are trying to tell you that they don’t expect you to be exceptional. If your parents name you Kendra they’ve come to terms with the fact that you’re probably going to become sexually active by the age of 15. And if they name you anything that ends with an “ie” they’re clearly sadists who wanted to have a mentally disturbed child. But if you’re Teddy Roosevelt, and you decide to name your first born son “Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.” it’s basically daring your son to achieve the impossible.
And dammit, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. did his damndest to achieve it.
Born in 1887, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who went by Teddy, faced more expectations from his father than any of his siblings. While that led to stressful situations like “almost having a nervous breakdown” it did have perks such as “having Teddy Roosevelt hand him a rifle when he was 9 and letting him shoot a hole in the roof as long as he didn’t tell his mother” which sounds like the best thing to ever happen to a 9 year old in the history of ever.
Roosevelt made a fortune for himself before World War I due to his business acumen, and he would eventually hold positions such as the Vice-President of Doubleday Books and the Chairman of the Board of American Express. He accomplished all this despite his decision to spurn his abilities to grow a Teddy Roosevelt mustache even though, without the ‘stache, he often appeared like a slightly misshapen wax doll.
What’s going on with your left eye, buddy?
In 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt, Sr. was shot in the chest (and finished a three hour goddamn speech with said bullet in his chest), Roosevelt Jr. rushed to the hospital with the calm manner of someone who knew that his father was invincible. That image was captured by this 1912 version of a paparazzi.
While we’re going to assume that the man who tried to kill Roosevelt Sr. was not German, Roosevelt Jr. must have at least assumed he was German, considering how he spent the rest of his life crusading against them in both of the World Wars.
Roosevelt was of a prime fighting age when World War I came about, and he was called up to the army when the U.S. entered the war, and volunteered to the be one of the first U.S. Soldiers to go to France. He eventually earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the 26th Regiment of the First Division, and earning the Distinguished Cross of Service. During the summer of 1918 he was gassed and wounded but, being a Roosevelt, he just shrugged and kept fighting. He went on to be one of the original organizers for what would become the American Legion.
Teddy Roosevelt Jr. liked war. He liked fighting alongside soldiers, and one can only assume that he absolutely loved killing Germans. If you’ve never met a German in your life, it’s because they were all probably killed by Teddy Roosevelt, Jr., and if you have met a German, just know that somewhere in their family tree is a someone whose last image in this world was a wild-eyed Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. One can only assume that when WWI ended, Roosevelt was still bayoneting random Germans on the street.
With a good 25 years to go before he could continue killing Germans, Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. began his political career, all the while occasionally asking political and legal figures if he was allowed to start killing Germans again yet.
Of course he had a jeep with the words “Rough Rider” written on it. Of COURSE he had that.
In 1919, Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Assembly while timidly asking, “C..Can I…just start killing Germans again?” In 1921, Warren G. Harding appointed Roosevelt as the Assistant Secretary of Navy, to which Roosvelt asked, “And…uh, can I use that Navy to…you know…kill Germans?” During his tenure as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, uh…Hmm…Well, you know, some people are better suited for War than for bureaucracy, yada yada, Teapot Dome Scandal, nothing to see here, moving on. In 1929, Roosevelt was appointed as the Governor of Puerto Rico. He grew to love Puerto Rico, eventually being known among locals as “El Jibarito de La Fortaleza” which of course is Spanish for “We don’t speak Spanish this is America goddamn it.” Many suspect that the only reason Roosevelt ever left Puerto Rico was that there were no Germans for him to kill.
President Hoover was impressed by Roosevelt’s work in Puerto Rico, and in 1932 appointed him as the Governor-General of the Philippines, under the condition that he not kill any Germans during his tenure there. This did not sit well with Roosevelt, who left the position in 1933, and began his business pursuits at Doubleday and American Express.
In 1940, he took a military course offered to businessmen and was promoted to the position of Colonel of the US Army, and in 1941, he began active duty with the Army again, taking command of his same Regiment from World War I. While he was pleased with this development, he thought to himself, “Well this is all well and good…but dammit, when am I gonna get to kill some damn Germans?”
“WAR” the headlines read in December of 1941. “JAPAN ATTACKS PEA…headline continued on next page” that one newspaper with the crappy editor said. Yes, with America entering the second World War, Teddy Roosevelt Jr. finally had his chance to kill some damn Germans. There were just a few issues. Roosevelt didn’t have the immortality of his father, and as he entered war in his 50’s he was battling a heart condition and arthritis from his old war injuries that was so bad he was forced to walk with a cane.
Of course, Teddy Roosevelt Jr. being, well, a Roosevelt, did not let this stop him from killing some goddamn Germans. Despite being promoted to Brigadier General, he made a point to visit the front lines often, and often participated in front line assaults. With his cane and all. And we are not talking about photo ops, Roosevelt was the only General in the entire army to land on the beaches of Normandy by sea with the first wave of troops. When asked why he would risk his life by storming the beach with a bad leg and a heart condition with, you know, a few hundred thousand Germans shooting at him, he answered with three points. 1- His leadership and tactical knowledge could be instrumental in leading a successful attack. 2- This was his best shot to kill a whole mess of Germans. And 3- He’s a Roosevelt, do not fuck with him.
And with this picture (erm, from a movie), you can never again complain about straining your back helping your friend move out of his apartment.
To recap, in one of the largest Allied assaults in the entire second World War, Teddy Roosevelt was a 56 year old man hobbling on a cane with a bad heart who said, “Hey, fuck it, let’s storm this son of a bitch!” And he had to ask permission to do it. Twice. It was so crazy his superior, Major General Tubby Barton, basically said “Ha, good joke, no you’re not going to storm the beach,” so Roosevelt had to ask again and lay out his reasoning. Barton reluctantly agreed to let him do it, but gave him a stern, “No seriously, you’re going to die man” warning. Barton would go on to write, “I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I bade him goodbye I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me. He was bursting with information.” All of this from a man with, again, a really bad heart condition.
And we are not overstating his heart problems- only one month after leading the assault on Utah Beach (Normandy’s right flank), Roosevelt would die of a heart attack (and possibly of a rare condition that is called testicles haveingwaytoomuchforthisworld). Just before his death he had been nominated by Eisenhower for a promotion to the rank of Major General. When General Omar Bradley was asked the most heroic action he had ever seen in combat, his response was easy. “Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach.” Not a bad way to carry on a legacy.
Over the course of his distinguished life, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. held numerous political positions, became independently wealthy due to his business acumen, had the good sense to name his son Theodore Roosevelt III, and fought in two World Wars where he received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Guerre (he took that last one kind of reluctantly). In the end, it’s fitting that the Germans weren’t able to get him. The only thing that can take out a Roosevelt is a Roosevelt, after all.