— Theodore Roosevelt American politician, 26th president of the United States 1858 - 1919
1900s, Address at the Prize Day Exercises at Groton School (1904)
Context: You need a great many qualities to make a successful man on a nine or an eleven; and just so you need a great many different qualities to make a good citizen. In the first place, of course it is al most tautological to say that to make a good citizen the prime need is to be decent, clean in thought, clean in mind, clean in action; to have an ideal and not to keep that ideal purely for the study to have an ideal which you will in good faith strive to live up to when you are out in life. If you have an ideal only good while you sit at home, an ideal that nobody can live up to in outside life, then I advise you strongly to take that ideal, examine it closely, and then cast it away. It is not a good one. The ideal that it is impossible for a man to strive after in practical life is not the type of ideal that you wish to hold up and follow. Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground. Be truthful; a lie implies fear, vanity or malevolence; and be frank; furtiveness and insincerity are faults incompatible with true manliness. Be honest, and remember that honesty counts for nothing unless back of it lie courage and efficiency. If in this country we ever have to face a state of things in which on one side stand the men of high ideals who are honest, good, well-meaning, pleasant people, utterly unable to put those ideals into shape in the rough field of practical life, while on the other side are grouped the strong, powerful, efficient men with no ideals: then the end of the Republic will be near. The salvation of the Republic depends the salvation of our whole social system depends upon the production year by year of a sufficient number of citizens who possess high ideals combined with the practical power to realize them in actual life.