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Theodore Roosevelt

WIN: The First Eagles; How Yanks took the skies in World War I

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Today is an age of unparalleled military might in the skies for the United States. The U.S. Air Force boasts more than 5,600 aircraft and 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Sixty-five Air Force satellites orbit the Earth. More than 332,000 active personnel man this mighty arsenal, to which more than $140 billion of America’s budget is devoted. Today, in an era in which unmanned military drones are the cutting edge of aerial warfare, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the United States didn’t rule the skies. Yet, only 100 years ago, the U.S. military consisted of a measly five aircraft, with no training programs or recruitment procedures in place. German dirigibles, not airplanes, were feared as “ominous weapons” of warfare.…

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Reading up on the Roosevelts: Great books about the historic trio

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The lives of three of the most towering figures of the 20th century—and of American history—are on full display in Ken Burns’ latest documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. “No other family has ever touched so many lives,” the documentary tells us, and their stories have become the stuff of legend: Theodore, the sickly child who grows up to become the Rough Rider, storming into the presidency and defining America’s new role both at home and around the world; Franklin, the pampered son of wealth who overcomes crippling disease and rises to lead the nation through two of its greatest calamities; and Eleanor, who triumphs over her own fears and self-doubts to become a champion of the downtrodden, and perhaps…

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Hail to the Chiefs! A patriotic parade of presidents for the Fourth of July

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No one is a bigger fan of fireworks than I am. I’ve seen more than my share of Independence Day fireworks over the decades, and this year will be no exception. What really unfurls my bunting, though, is spending the days around the Fourth of July immersing myself in the rich history of our country. I love peeking behind the marble statues and getting to know the real lives of the people who defined and changed the course of American history. This year, my desk is stacked with books filled with stories of American presidents: stories that dazzle the mind, swell the heart with patriotic pride, and send the imagination soaring in a blazing display of red, white and blue.…

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From waif to monarch, JUMBO was symbolic of Victorian life

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 Born in 1861 in French Sudan, imported to Paris as a two year old calf, then later sold to the London Zoo at Regent’s Park, Jumbo the elephant delighted countless children (including Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt) with rides and treats gently taken from outstretched hands. Each night, after the children and their families had gone home, he was mistreated in an attempt to keep him docile. By the time he reached sexual maturity, the abused and isolated animal had become dangerously unstable. He was sold to showman P.T. Barnum in 1881 (despite letters from 100,000 British schoolchildren who wrote to Queen Victoria begging her to prevent the sale) and brought to America. There, in the company of other elephants…

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