The Other Faces on Mount Rushmore, Part One

By Roberta Sarver


Quiz: What four presidents’ faces are carved on Mount Rushmore?  If you’re like most of us you guessed George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but stumbled over the last two.


The third president on Mount Rushmore is Theodore Roosevelt. I was fascinated as I researched this unique man. And I discovered I had been mispronouncing his name all these years.  According to a source which quoted him, he said his last name was “pronounced as if it was spelled Rosavelt. That is in three syllables. The first syllable as if it was ‘Rose.’


He disliked being called “Teddy,”  preferring “Theodore,” or “Colonel,” after his stint in the Spanish-American War.


Plagued with asthma as a child, Roosevelt overcame his affliction with vigorous exercise.  As a young adult, he traveled out west and lived as a cowboy, exhibiting to critics that educated men could indeed have callouses on their hands.


Roosevelt was homeschooled and described as “energetic and mischievously inquisitive.” He liked science and biology, which played out later in life when as President he established the U.S. Forest Service and established five national parks.


One of Roosevelt’s famous achievements was his participation in the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War.  Interestingly, he served alongside of Army Colonel Leonard Wood.


Due to his robust health, Roosevelt survived a bullet in the chest during a speech in Milwaukee when a spectator shot him.  He declined immediate medical help and finished the 90-minute speech.   Doctors later determined it would be dangerous to operate, so Roosevelt carried the bullet within him the rest of his life.


A colorful, energetic lifestyle accompanied Roosevelt wherever he went. He approached life with a robust, enthusiastic vigor.


When Roosevelt died in his sleep at age 60, the vice president under Woodrow Wilson said, “Death had to take Roosevelt sleeping, for if he had been awake, there would have been a fight,” well-spoken words to honor a truly remarkable man.  It’s no wonder his face has been memorialized on Mount Rushmore.

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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