By Lauren Feldman
The citizens of Oyster Bay were treated earlier this month to a visit from 26th President Theodore Roosevelt. Embodied by famed reprisor Joe Wiegand, Roosevelt joined Town Clerk Richard LaMarca and Councilwoman Vicki Walsh upon the Oyster Bay Bandstand to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the Spanish-American War.
LaMarca greeted the crowd. “This momentous event, which serves as a tangible link to the past, underscores the importance of preserving our heritage for future generations. President Theodore Roosevelt was not only a national treasure, he is our hometown hero. I think we can all agree there is unique, local pride in knowing that the President proudly called our town home. Right up the road at Sagamore Hill, the President resided in his summer White House, and similar to all of us, he spent his time admiring and gazing upon Oyster Bay Harbor, as well as strolling the streets of downtown Oyster Bay. At only 42 years old, Roosevelt became the youngest president to serve in our nation’s history. He brought new excitement and power to the presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reform… He was a most worthy role model for all of us, and we can say his influence is still felt here in his hometown. Before President Roosevelt passed away in 1919, he said, ‘No man has had a happier life than I have led, a happier life in every way.’ And that can be attributed to spending many wonderful years in this great town we call home, the town of Oyster Bay.”
Roosevelt’s reprisor commemorated the war, as well as the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, honoring the 266 Americans who perished on this vessel with a remembrance ceremony. The sinking of the Maine incited United States’ passions against Spain, eventually leading to a naval blockade of Cuba and a declaration of war. “Do we really remember the Maine?” he asked. “It has implications in our modern day… When we say we will remember, when we say we will not forgot, do our actions hold true to our words? I am delighted and humbled that today, Oyster Bay pauses and remembers the Maine, the Spanish-American War, the hundreds of Americans who gave their lives in Spain, in Cuba, in the Philippines, that other people might live free.” He continued, “This meeting today is in honor of all of those Americans who have upheld the flag.”
Visitors were able to take photos and shake hands with the President, who, following his presentation, patronized a variety of shops in downtown Oyster Bay.