I really enjoy searching out colorful, handpainted murals that seem to adorn every hidden place, wall and garden in Tampa. This one is entertaining picnickers today at Ballast Point. Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt is best known in Tampa and in American history for having recruited a group of volunteers to travel here with their horses in 1898 to join in the war with Spain. The group, the Rough Riders, and many other illustrious men and women from around the world, found a hot, dusty, sand spur welcome at the end of Henry Bradley Plant's railroad line. Passing within feet of our house on their way by train car to Port Tampa, and their embarkation to Cuba, Roosevelt and his men would gain fame that they never dreamt of. Well, actually, the terribly ambitious young colonel very likely did dream big. Very big. His two terms in the White House introduced a new foreign policy and brought conservation to the nation's consciousness. He made land and environmental changes for which we should be forever grateful. Yes, we won the war with Spain, and gained territories and land, and an image of power and prestige on the world stage, but the land that President Roosevelt acquired to create many of our national parks, saved some of the most important and awe inspiring natural resources in our country and in the world - in total 230 million acres.
Thank you sir for making our 4th of July picnics so much better. Without you we'd be staring at the backyard year-round. Tampa loves Teddy Roosevelt like a native son, but we are extremely proud to share his lasting impact and legacy with the citizens of the entire United States. This is definitely Teddy Roosevelt's kind of American celebration. Happy 4th of July.