Remarks in Sterling, Illinois

May 10, 1905

It is a great pleasure to greet you to-day and be once again in this fertile and beautiful State of Illinois. In greeting all of you I know that the others will not object to my saying a special word of acknowledgment to the men of the Grand Army over there. It is to them that we owe the fact that we have a country at all. My comrades of the Grand Army, I want to say something that I know will please you.

I have just come back from a trip in the course of which I went through the State of Texas, and you would feel more than justified for your efforts to have once more made this nation whole if you could see how completely whole it was, for the veterans who wore the blue and the veterans of the Confederate army, who had worn the gray, stood there shoulder to shoulder to greet the President of their common country.

Now let me say a word to those at the other end of the line. I am awfully glad to see the veterans, and I am very glad to see the children. You raise a great many good crops in Illinois, but the best crop is the Illinois citizen. While prosperity is indispensable as the basis, as the foundation, it will not amount to anything if you do not build on that foundation; and what is most essential in any. State is to have the right type of man and woman in that State.

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

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