Why I’m writing this blog: Inspirational stories of virtue
Inspirational stories of virtue tested in battle:
- Educate readers on little known or forgotten stories from military history.
- Entertain readers who share the love for military history.
- Elevate readers by sharing stories of virtue to inspire us to be better people.
To understand where I’m going with this, perhaps it may be help to start with what inspired me early in life and what brought me to writing stories about military history.
Inspirational stories motivate
Inspiration comes from many sources throughout life. Inspirational stories motivate us to action. One of the prolific leaders of the 20th Century in U.S. history who provided that inspiration was Theodore Roosevelt. While Roosevelt’s views and actions are not without criticism, he earned respect in a number of ways. The most memorable among them is his service in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.
Acts of selfless service energize
While war in Cuba was over in a matter of months, it was not without inspirational stories of heroic and selfless acts of courage by both men and women who volunteered to serve their country. While controversy surrounds the roots of U.S. foreign policy that led to the conflict, the war marked the first major movement by the U.S. to enter the global stage and sparked the altruistic will of the Nation. Roosevelt was among the first to volunteer following the United State’s declaration of war with Spain. Immediately upon volunteering, he was appointed to serve as the deputy commanding officer of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, aka the “Rough Riders,” in 1898.
Honoring valor promotes greatness
Without prior military experience, he was instrumental in successfully forming and deploying his regiment to Cuba. It was his infamous charge on 1 July, 1898 up San Juan Hill near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, that earned him his reputation as a dynamic and courageous leader. Due to various reasons, no awards were conferred to Roosevelt immediately following the war. It wasn’t until 100 years later, on November 12, 1998, that Roosevelt was awarded the U.S. highest military award for valor- the Congressional Medal of Honor. It is important to understand what happened on 1 July, 1898 to earn the recognition.
Duty provides focus
It was just five days prior to the charge up San Juan hill that Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt took command of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry regiment from Colonel Leonard Wood. The Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Samuel Young fell ill and Wood assumed command of the Brigade leaving Roosevelt in charge of the Rough Riders. To the men, this did not deter from their mission. Roosevelt held the confidence of the troops and were prepared to follow his orders in battle.
Adversity sparks character
The Rough Riders were ordered to march to the right of the hill and connect with Brigadier General Lawton’s brigade, yet the order was impossible to obey as the route was covered heavily by enemy fire. Spanish cannon fired from the fortified heights of San Juan Hill to the valley below. In the sweltering heat, troops sought cover using any tree, rock or mound of dirt from the cannon, machine gun and rifle fire. Despite their efforts, casualties mounted. Soon after losing one of his most popular commanders with the men, Captain Bucky O’Neil, Roosevelt formed his men to charge up San Juan Hill.
Personal courage incites action
In total disregard for his personal safety, and initially accompanied by only four or five men, he led the charge on horseback and eventually on foot. He encouraged his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside. Facing the enemy’s heavy fire, he was the first to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault. His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill. Through Roosevelt’s actions and those of his men, campaign success solidified within days.
Strength of character prevails
Roosevelt’s early life was challenging and his health was stymied by asthma. As a sickly child, he realized early on that he needed to develop both his mind and his body. He developed his strength and character through rituals and habits for a robust lifestyle. He was as an athlete, outdoorsman, intellectual and benefactor who served others. His value of selfless service fostered success throughout his life and fulfilled his destiny of becoming the 26th President of the United States.
Heroism breeds good deeds
Roosevelt’s heroism displayed in the Battle for San Juan Hill inspired generations of men and women to take bold action in service to their Nation. People like Roosevelt inspire us to take actions that are often greater than ourselves. They energize us to act heroically and selflessly and put intangible thoughts and ideas into action with tangible outcomes.
History influences the present
History provides us many examples of idealistic people who have manifested greatness. For me personally, Roosevelt was one of the influences that inspired me to become a Soldier and dedicate my life to the service of my country, and contribute to society in a meaningful and productive way.
I learned of Roosevelt’s story early in my life. I admit that I was enamored with the romanticism of his life of adventuring, soldiering and exploring. I wanted that life which led me to a career in the U.S. Army. I am honored to serve for 28 years as a U.S. Army Reserve Officer. My service included three combat tours, two deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. I am extremely grateful for the privilege of leading our Nation’s most precious resource- our Nation’s sons and daughters- while in harm’s way. Being in the profession of arms, I’ve witnessed the fantastic highs and the grotesque lows of how humans treat each other in this world. Although at times the work was exceptionally challenging, I am appreciative for the opportunity to do my part. I value serving the greater good of our Nation by taking action to ensure our security. I am honored to serve with my brothers and sisters to keep the wolves from the door.
Inspirational stories educate, entertain and elevate
My mission now that I’ve retired from the Army is to share stories of virtue that educate, entertain and elevate. I am fascinated by the stories of men and women who faced extreme challenges and the actions they took. My aim is to share stories that inspire us to act in positive ways towards fellow members of our society. I do this with a desire to help make our world better by commemorating exceptional people with the desire that their stories will stimulate positive action for the common good.
Serve the greater good
Some may ask why should I care and why does it matter? Our lives can only become better once we are willing to put actions against what we value. Philosopher Aristotle stated that “The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.” When people serve the greater good, society as a whole is better. Through synergistic effort, great things may be accomplished.
The essence of Roosevelt’s story is that no matter one’s circumstances in life, one must seek to overcome them and strive to serve others. His life is an inspirational story…so now I ask you, who or what inspires you to serve the greater good?
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