“strive to do the deeds”


As great a fan as I am of American history and especially the history of the office of the President of the United States, I am woefully ignorant regarding so many great facts, acts and speeches offered by these gentlemen. I need to work to get better at that.

So I am both embarrassed and enthralled to say I have come across for the first time an amazing speech from President Theodore Roosevelt from 1910. It was given at the Sorbonne in Paris and was titled “The Man in the Arena” speech. It was later republished as part of Roosevelt’s book “Citizenship in a Republic”.

It was one of its most famous passages that caught my eye and made me read the entire text.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

This speech goes on to plainly outline what a citizen should expect of it government and vice versa. It even outlines the value to be placed on oratory in our republic (which might catch the attention of a few of my voice over friends).

My friends, I’m no Oprah and I have no book club, but this speech is recommended reading.

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