Roosevelt's inspiring words are part of a new collection of speeches and documents released this week called "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own" edited by Jackie Gingrich Cushman (Regnery Publishing. Full disclosure: I'm also a Regnery author).
"I wrote this book because I believe America is exceptional-that's a controversial statement. These great national stories remind us of the foundation of our country and how our national character has been forged," Cushman said.
"The Essential American" will help us reinvigorate that national character. Through documents such as the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, to important speeches such as Lincoln's first and second Inaugural addresses, McArthur's Sylvanus Thayer Award Acceptance Address ("Duty, Honor, Country"), and Reagan's Brandenburg Gate remarks, Cushman arms us with the basic building blocks of American citizenship and fans the flame of our national spirit.
There is such as thing as an American character. Just as we have forged quintessentially American traditions like Thanksgiving, we can claim for ourselves the essential American qualities that have defined us for generations.
Cushman's collection challenges us to bolster those traits by knowing and appreciating our history. Perhaps the best place to start is with Teddy's vision of Americans:
"In the last analysis a healthy state can exist only when the men and women who make it up lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives; when the children are so trained that they shall endeavor, not to shirk difficulties, but to overcome them; not to seek ease, but to know how to rest triumph from toil and risk.As it is with the individual, so it is with the nation."
Bully! And Happy Thanksgiving!