Roosevelt quotes

Two of the nation’s most beloved and successful chief executives left us a wealth of quotes in which we find poetic language of the highest order. These lines are from Ken Burns’ documentary series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.

“This Floating City of Souls”

The good, old ocean is so absolutely normal
just as it has always been,
sometimes tumbling about
and throwing spray like this morning,
sometimes gently lolling about
with occasional points of light like tonight
but always something known –
an old friend of moods and power

But now, though the ocean looks unchanged,
the doubled number on lookout shows
that even here the hand of the (enemy’s) false god
is reaching out to defy nature;
that ten miles ahead of this floating city of souls
a torpedo may be waiting to start on its quick run;
that we can never get our good, old ocean back again
until that god and the people who have set him up
are utterly cut down and purged.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Asst. Sec. of the Navy, writing in 1918 while he traveled by naval destroyer to take part in an inspection tour

“We Must Soon Die”

My sorrow is so keen for the young who die
that the edge of my grief is blunted
when death comes to the old, of my own generation;
for in the nature of things we must soon die anyhow
and we have warmed both hands before the fire of life.

  • Theodore Roosevelt (date unknown), presumably in a letter

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