Remarks in Hastings, Nebraska

April 27, 1903

Mr. Mayor, and you, my fellow citizens:

I have struck a Nebraska zephyr and I shall try to do little more than thank you for your greeting. I want to thank all of you, but especially two classes—in the first place, the men who wear the button that tells that from '61 to '65 they did the work which made us a nation—the veterans of the great war; and I am sure you feel a just pride in the fact that when a lesser war came Nebraska sent her sons instantly to the front; and the record of the First Nebraska regiment in the Philippines was one in which the state and the nation have just cause to feel keen pride. I greet you. In the next place I want to greet the small folks. I am always glad to see the boys and girls, and I have just got a few words to say to them. I believe in work and I believe in play. Play hard while you play and when you work do not play at all—work.

I am here in the home of my good friend, Senator Dietrich, and I wish to express my acknowledgments for the support I have received from Nebraska in so much that I have striven to do. Here in the true west, there are needs to be met of a special kind. I spoke this morning a word of appreciation of the remarkable work done by Nebraska in tree-planting, and of the just tribute of regard that must be paid by all of our people, not only here in Nebraska but throughout the country, to the memory of the late Sterling Morton, whose interest in tree culture was so great. More than that, it is through the aid of men such as your senators and representatives in Nebraska that we have made a permanent beginning at last of the irrigation system.

I have been glad to see in Nebraska the prosperity that you are so abundantly enjoying. I am glad to see the diversification of crops, to see the green alfalfa take its place among the corn and the winter wheat. I am glad to see the prosperous look of your farms. I congratulate you on all your crops, especially on the crop I see before me—the children. I believe in the stock and I want to see it kept up.

In closing let me say just a word. Something can be done by law for you; something can be done by the honest and upright administration of the law. You have a right to insist upon wise legislation, upon upright administration. But after all, when all is said and done, after we have done the best we can with the law, the final factor in success must be the individual man's character; his courage, his intelligence, his honesty and morality. That is what counts finally. Bodily strength is a good thing; intellect is a better thing, and best of all is character. That is what counts in the long run. I believe in the success of Nebraska. I believe in the success of the west, and I believe in the success of this entire country, because I believe that the average American citizen has in him those qualities out of which we build a mighty and prosperous nation.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Hastings, Nebraska Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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