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Sparky’s Quill: Theodore Roosevelt at ASU

Theodore Roosevelt on the steps of Old Main. Photo courtesy ASU
Theodore Roosevelt on the steps of Old Main. Photo courtesy ASU

March 20, 1911: In front of the beautiful Old Main at Tempe Normal School, Theodore Roosevelt recited his speech. He stood on the same steps that you can walk on today. There was a fair amount of people gathered around in the pleasant March air. Arizona was still a territory at the time as Roosevelt spoke about the future of education and Arizona as a community.

Theodore Roosevelt on the steps of Old Main. Photo courtesy ASU Theodore Roosevelt on the steps of Old Main. Photo courtesy ASU

The speech lasted for thirteen minutes and was a few days after the dedication of the Roosevelt Dam located northeast of Phoenix. Education was a primary subject in his speech, with him touching on the importance of training future generations for actual work and also to love learning in general.

Roosevelt touched on the stunning nature of the territory and the scenic drives. As an explorer of the state, I completely agree with his observation.  Arizona landscape will leave you in awe. Roosevelt predicted the popularity of the area would rise when more became known about the picturesque landscape.  Well, he could not have been more right. Phoenix is now a huge metropolitan and a popular tourist destination from not only across the country, but also across the world.

I had the idea for this blog post for a few months and was going to publish it around the date that Theodore Roosevelt was at ASU. So why are you reading it in April and not March? Well, I mixed up the dates and thought it was in April and not March (oops). I was off by a month.

One of my favorite professors at ASU (and a highly respected expert in his field), Dr. Donald Fixico mentions sometimes how he forgets dates and mixes them up.  This made me feel a bit better about myself for forgetting dates and being a bad historian.  The thing is, being a good historian is not about remembering dates, but analyzing the past and learning how to learn just like Roosevelt mentioned in his speech. As a historian sometimes it can be important to remember things, but we are in the information age or, as I like to call it, the “Google Age.” It has become less and less important to remember specific dates and times. Anybody can hop on Google and find out the date Theodore Roosevelt stood on the steps at Tempe Normal School, but not everybody can fit that speech into the worldview of our country and analyze how it can benefit the present and future.


This Day in History:

April 17, 1790: Ben Franklin died in Philadelphia

April 17, 1961: The U.S. conducted the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.

April 17, 1969: Sirhan Sirhan was convicted for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy.

April 17, 1970: Apollo 13 astronauts successfully splash down in the South Pacific after a near disastrous flight.


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