Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday rerun: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat the 11th grade

ON Sunday, The Simpsons was all about Superintendent Chalmers shaming Principal Skinner by getting Bart to develop an interest in learning about Teddy Roosevelt.  And if you know anything about The Simpsons, you know what a feat that was.  

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, namesake of the Teddy Bear, giver of football, first to say "Speak softly and carry a big stick," an outdoorsman, naturalist, historian, explorer, first police commissioner of New York City (look for his picture on Tom Selleck's office wall in "Blue Bloods") and a man who was shot in 1914 as he began making a speech in Milwaukee, always a tough town.  Shot in the chest!  And he still kept talking for ninety minutes!

(I hope that the local news anchor who referred to Sen. Edward Kennedy, on the night of that wonderful man's passage into heaven, as "Theodore" Kennedy, was watching The Simpsons the other night. He might have learned something.)

I was disappointed that the cartoon didn't mention Leon Czolgosz.  Czolgosz, known in every schoolbook as "crazed anarchist Leon Czolgosz," assassinated President William McKinley in Buffalo in 1901, and that is how Spanish-American war hero Teddy became el presidente.  Czolgosz, having shot the president on September 6, was granted a speedy trial and given three 1800-volt jolts on October 29, which ended his days on earth rather suddenly.

Twenty years prior to the McKinley slaying, President James Garfield was shot to death by the assassin known in every schoolbook as "disappointed office seeker Charles J. Guiteau."  Guiteau shot Garfield in the DC train station in July of 1881. Mortally wounded, Garfield nevertheless lived for 80 days, succumbing to his wound eighty days later, and Guiteau was put to death in June of 1882, following a slam-dunk trial that saw him sing to the jury, publish his autobiography - with an appeal for a "nice Christian lady under thirty" - in a newspaper. He even admitted to choosing the murder weapon based on finding a gun that would look best in a museum.   

You can't really believe it when people say history isn't interesting!

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