August 14, 1918

One Son Dead, Two Others Wounded, Theodore Roosevelt Bitterly Regrets Being Forced to Sit Through World War I at Home in “Comfort and Safety”

Typed Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 1253
Writing just a month after his youngest son was killed at the Front, Roosevelt proudly mentions that his other two sons have been wounded – and that “there has been nothing finer in our history than the way our young men have eagerly and gladly gone to France to fight for a high ideal.” But as for himself, he will never cease bitterly regretting that he was not allowed to get into the fight; from which, he adds poignantly, he would never expect to come home alive.

But at times it seems almost more than I can bear to have my sons face dreadful danger while I sit at home in ease and comfort and safety. It is a terrible thing that death should come to the young. But it is even more terrible, of course, if the young fear to face death in a great crisis for a great cause.

When the war is over, he says, he and Burroughs (not, at 81, a really old man yet), “will come together… and shake hands over the defeat of the arch foe of civilization.” But although Roosevelt lived to see the armistice declared, he barely survived much longer, dying in the first week of 1919, heartsick at the loss of his boy.
Typed Letter Signed, with autograph emendations, 2 pages, quarto, on his Kansas Star letterhead, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City, New York, August 14, 1918. To John Burroughs.
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