The price of disobeying orders

July 24th, 1917

Diary of Theodore Roosevelt

I had to pull some strings to get pen and paper in here, but my name still carries weight, even with the Brits. I am in detention, in military prison until they decide what to do with me. A cunning, round little Belgian with a sculpted, pointy beard found me out. He was smoking a pipe and masticating a hard-boiled egg with his two, big buck teeth like a rabbit when he caught up to me. He otherwise had the mien of an impeccable gentleman.

Edith is angry at me for my charade. I didn’t think it hurt anyone, but the children were quite upset. I’d have thought they’d be more upset about me NOT fighting than me dying in an artillery barrage. I was wrong. Wilson made the most obnoxious eulogy in front of the American people. He could not have insulted me more if he tried — and I’m sure he did try. Hard. It was as though he was eulogizing himself, not me.

I do not know what’s to become of me after this, but now Forsythe’s family can get the peace they deserve. I do feel sorry about taking that away from them — even temporarily. I suppose I will be demoted. Or shot. I must take my lumps like a man. I am a soldier. There is a price to be paid for insubordination and disobedience.

Airship Zeta, a.k.a. “The Flying Tubesteak”

July 25th, 1917

Military Communique from Brigadier General Mac Allan Macaby, “Mac the Body Stacker” to Gen Douglas Haig: CLASSIFIED MOST SECRET

Orders are now being prepared to assemble His Majesty’s 33rd Anti-Unicorn Brigade also known as Browntrout’s Bicycle Brigade. The unit will include Sir Ernest Shackleton, age 43, Frederick Russell Burnham, age 56, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, age 60, Theodore Roosevelt, age 59, Allen Quatermain, age 87. We are also sending one Miss Fanny Fry Fixit, a crack combat nurse who can attend to any of the gentlemen’s medical needs, should they have any. They will all meet at Sainte Croix en Plaine and there board the Airship Zeta for infiltration behind enemy lines under cover of darkness.

Allan Quatermain: could hit a shilling off a giraffe’s horn in a driving rain at 10,000 yards, yet leave the animal unharmed…
Ernest Shackleton, age 22, with frosted whiskers
Lord RBP: His motto, death, conquest or join the boyscouts!
Major Frederick Russel Burnham: could live for weeks at a time on worms and sips of water. He changed his under trousers once per year.

July 26th, 1917

Diary of Theodore Roosevelt

Gen Haig visited my cell today and said that I was being offered a special mission! It comes with a promotion to Captain and a “leadership position” but he couldn’t say more than that due to the ultra-sensitive nature of the mission. He said that I’ll be behind enemy lines, and that I could let no one know except my wife that I was still alive. He could tell me nothing about the nature of the mission or my role in it, except that I was now part of an elite special forces unit and that after saying my final goodbyes to Edith, would make my way to a small town in France called Sainte Croix en Plaine to meet the rest of the unit and await further instructions. Finally, a real chance to either die or cause a bloodbath! I was so giddy I nearly kissed the General! I may finally get to see the “Roosevelt Rootin’ Tootin’ Bunch” after all! This is going to turn out to be my war. Could it be that I would be blessed enough to be granted a third Crowded Hour? Only time would tell.

July 23rd, 1917

Letter from Captain Theodore Roosevelt to Edith Roosevelt

Dear Wifey-poo,

This may be my last letter to you for some time, as I am about to embark on a special mission upon which the fate of the entire world depends. At least, I hope it does. The knowledge of my being alive is a closely held secret. Even the children cannot know. You must burn this letter after reading it, as there are spies everywhere. It pains me to think that the children should weep even one unnecessary bitter tear for the death of their father, but one day I will make it up to them either by living deed or by example of my memory.

Take comfort knowing that when the enemy sees me coming, as they look into my teeth, they will know all the power and glory that is America, they will understand the incontestable will of a man on the rise, they will, in their final seconds, read the story of nations written in blood, they will, whether they shrink before me or lock horns with me, be crushed by the tidal forces not of one man, but one man into whom is distilled the essence of millions; they will know might makes right. Then, they will cease to exist. …And they will thank me for it later.

I had hoped to share our golden years together, sitting in rocking chairs, side by side, Winchester in one hand, bear pelt in the other. Truth be told my love, all our years together were golden. Come what may, we sired progeny that will continue to subdue the Earth, planting boots and bullets in the last corners of the planet that I have yet to explore. I hope you hold our grandchildren, but do not hold them back, coddle them, but do not mollycoddle them, for once their tubby, cherubic hands can grasp knives and rifles, they must do so, just as mine once did, so many years ago. I know that this is how it will be, because I say it is so.

I love you always.



Theodore Roosevelt’s first Crowded Hour

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