Here's another reason why people should read history.
In fact, I would like to know how it is possible that I made it through grade school without hearing this story, without a single history teacher realizing that this would make every student a little less jaded, a little less self-absorbed, a little more courageous, and probably even a lifelong fan of American History.
Teddy Roosevelt, the man who preserved our nation's beloved national parks so they would be nice and clean for our beloved oil companies when they arrived to correct the height of the mountains a century or so later, was SHOT in the CHEST, THEN delivered a 90 minute speech.
Many years later, a very famous male-model of windbreakers and hair products named James Dean, said...
"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today."
He wasn't talking about Roosevelt at the time. In fact, he was probably just trying to get laid, but still, the sentiment is spot on.
Because as he stood on that podium, literally bleeding from the bullet of a fresh, and nearly successful assassination attempt, Teddy Roosevelt was still living his life, still leading, trying to be a guide toward a better direction. His words on that day, kind of put things in perspective right now. As history can sometimes do.
Here's some of what my new favorite President of the United States said before they pried him off the stage to get the freakin' bullet out of his chest.
"I am going to ask you to be as quiet as possible for I am not able to give the challenge of the bull moose quite as loudly. Now, I do not know who he was or what he represented. He was a coward. He stood in the darkness in the crowd around the automobile and when they cheered me, and I got up to bow, he stepped forward and shot me in the darkness.
Now, friends, of course, I do not know, as I say, anything about him; but it is a very natural thing that weak and vicious minds should be inflamed to acts of violence by the kind of awful mendacity and abuse that have been heaped upon me for the last three months by the papers in the interest of not only Mr. Debs but of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Taft.
Friends, I will disown and repudiate any man of my party who attacks with such foul slander and abuse any opponent of any other party; and now I wish to say seriously to all the daily newspapers, to the Republicans, the Democrat, and Socialist parties, that they cannot, month in month out and year in and year out, make the kind of untruthful, of bitter assault that they have made and not expect that brutal, violent natures, or brutal and violent characters, especially when the brutality is accompanied by a not very strong mind; they cannot expect that such natures will be unaffected by it.
Now, friends, I am not speaking for myself at all, I give you my word, I do not care a rap about being shot; not a rap.
I have had a good many experiences in my time and this is one of them. What I care for is my country. I wish I were able to impress upon my people -- our people, the duty to feel strongly but to speak the truth of their opponents. I say now, I have never said one word one the stump against any opponent that I cannot defend. I have said nothing that I could not substantiate and nothing that I ought not to have said -- nothing that I -- nothing that, looking back at, I would not say again.
Now, friends, it ought not to be too much to ask that our opponents -[speaking to some one on the stage]-I am not sick at all. I am all right. I cannot tell you of what infinitesimal importance I regard this incident as compared with the great issues at stake in this campaign, and I ask it not for my sake, not the least in the world, but for the sake of common country, that they make up their minds to speak only the truth, and not use that kind of slander and mendacity which if taken seriously must incite weak and violent natures to crimes of violence. Don't you make any mistake. Don't you pity me. I am all right. I am all right and you cannot escape listening to the speech either."
Milwaukee, Wis., October, 14, 1912
It goes on from there... for 90 minutes.