Over the course of his life, Theodore Roosevelt gave no less than 10 addresses on the 4th of July. Here is an excerpt from 1906 as President of the United States. Read the full speech here.
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“One more word and then I think you are mighty patient I will let you go. Remember that the whole is the sum of the parts. It is a very good thing to come out to Fourth of July celebrations and hear what a great country we have. It is a mighty poor thing if, after having felt that glow of pride and virtue, you then go home free from all sense of responsibility to that particular part of the country which is found within the four walls of your own house and in its immediate neighborhood. The way to be good citizens of this Nation, you friends here, is to be good citizens of Oyster Bay. It does not sound quite as inspiriting to be asked to be a good citizen of the village, of the county, as it does to be asked to be a good citizen of the Nation; but you can not be a good citizen of the Nation if you are not, in the first place, a good citizen among your own neighbors. Above all remember that you can not be a good citizen of the town or the county if you are not a good citizen in your own home first. Boy or girl, man or woman, you will not be able to do right outside your own home if you have not got in you the stuff that makes you a decent father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife, in your own home. If the man who comes to a Fourth of July celebration goes home and so conducts himself that his wife and his children wish beyond anything else that he never did come home, you can guarantee that man is a poor citizen. It is just the same way with the wife, with the daughter. And now as for the son, for the young fellow growing up, the young fellow with an ambition to make his way in the world. He has got to make that way in the world by his own toil and effort; but it won t be worth the making if those who are nearest and dearest to him do not feel that his life means what is good and happy. Your boys must be trained as they grow up and become men that the mans duty is first to pull his own weight, to be able to make himself a measurable success. It is no use for any man to have lofty aspirations about benefiting man kind if personally he has to depend on his family for support. The man must support himself first, must be able to make his own way; but he must not be contented with doing nothing but make his own way. He must remember that his every added increment of strength entails an addition of duty and addition of responsibility. First and foremost there is the duty to his own family, that he shall so bear himself in the household as to add to the happiness of those near him, of those who should be dear to him; and if he does not do this, then no matter what he is elsewhere, he is a bad man and a poor citizen. Furthermore, after having done this, then if strength and success come to him year by year in increasing measure, by just so much grows the need that he shall do his duty by his neighbors, by the State, by the Nation as a whole. We can achieve for this Republic the success for which I surely think she is destined only by each of us doing his duty day in and day out, doing his duty in the day of small things, doing his duty in the family, doing his duty in business, his duty to his neighbors, and therefore developing by degrees those qualities which will enable him to do his duty to the Nation as a whole.
There is need of the capacity to do more than the little duties; there is need for each of us to have in him that lofty touch which will make him show the qualities of heroism when the need for heroism arises. But first and foremost there is need that every American citizen should do well the ordinary, humdrum duties of American citizenship if our Nation is to be placed where it shall be placed. There is need, O men and women, that each man and each woman should be in his or her own home a decent husband or wife, a decent father or mother, a decent son or daughter. And only on condition of showing these qualities in the home, qualities like these in our dealings with our neighbors, in our dealings in our ordinary avocations of life, will it be possible for us to prepare ourselves so that in time of need we may rise, as our fathers rose, level to the call of whatever crisis may trumpet forth the signal for all that there is in us of high resolve and stead fast courage. ” – President Theodore Roosevelt, July 4th 1906
Have a Happy Fourth of July!