ROOSEVELT, THEODORE - 'The admirable work done by the Y.M.C.A.'
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If you had been fit to serve in the army or navy, and had avoided such service and taken up the Y.M.C.A. work as a substitute, I should have condemned you ROOSEVELT, THEODORE. (1858-1919). Twenty-sixth president of the United States. TLS. (Theodore Roosevelt). With several minor holograph emendations. 1½pp. 4to. New York, July 3, 1918. One two sheets of his Kansas City Star letterhead. To Fred H. Payne. My views have been published again and again. I have always paid the highest tribute to the admirable work done by the Y.M.C.A. in the army and the navy and elsewhere. You tell me that you were rejected for army service for physical reasons and then did the next best thing and joined the Y.M.C.A. work. You tell me that your associates have been unable to enter through the regular channels into the army and navy and are now using the Y.M.C.A. as a medium to get into the war work and do their u[t]most to help. This is exactly what I have advocated, and I have said again and again that I have the very highest regard and admiration for the men who do the work under these conditions. I suppose that the persons who have told you that I have criticized men engaged in such work refer to the fact that I have repeatedly said, and now say, that no man of fighting age physically fit to go into the army or navy and there do fighting work, should go into the Red Cross, Y.M.C.A. or any other organization of the kind. This is exactly your position. You applied for army service and were rejected for physical reasons. You have gone into the Y.M.C.A. I congratulate you and thank you as an American for what you have done; but if you had been fit to serve in the army or navy, and had avoided such service and taken up the Y.M.C.A. work as a substitute, I should have condemned you. Roosevelt overcame ill health in his youth through sports and exercise to become a rancher, naturalist, soldier, political reformer, statesman, author, and physical fitness advocate. After completing his second presidential term, he continued to play an active role as an unofficial U.S. ambassador, lecturer and author of books and articles for such journals as Outlook, Metropolitan Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Kansas City Star, on whose letterhead our missive is penned. The outbreak of war in Europe only inflamed his patriotic fervor, and his support of the Allied cause is evident in such works as America and the World War, published in early 1915. As outspoken in print as he was in person, Roosevelt used authorship to promote his favorite beliefs and tell of his various adventures in and out of the political world, (The Oxford Companion to American Literature, J. Hart). But TR was also a man of action. After the U.S. entry into the war, Roosevelt volunteered to raise a regiment but President Wilson, long his political adversary, rejected the offer. Wilson's note to Roosevelt informing him that his help would not be required was perhaps the greatest disappointment he had ever suffered. Turning his attention to the war on the home front, he served with the only means left to him €“ his voice and pen hammering incessantly for loyalty, unity, and above all, for the vigorous prosecution of the war, (TR Champion of the Strenuous Life: A Photographic Biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Johnston). In his stead Roosevelt's children and their spouses served during the war as medical staff, soldiers and even YMCA volunteers. Tragically, just 11 days after Roosevelt wrote our letter, his son Quentin was killed in action, shot down by German flyers at the age of 20. Roosevelt's overwhelming grief at the loss of his youngest son most likely contributed to his own death six months later. Since the Civil War, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) had offered its support to military personnel but it was during World War I that the organization became most involved in aiding troops and their families. Since that time many of the activities carried out by the YMCA have been incorporated into the military itself. In very good condition, with normal folds and some minor staining.