The black iron gates at the final resting place of Theodore Roosevelt swung open Sunday as people gathered in Oyster Bay Cove to pay their respects to the 26th president of the United States on the 100th anniversary of his death.
“Let us thank God for Teddy Roosevelt, for the man and for all he has done for our country,” Deacon James Murphy of St. Edward the Confessor Church, Syosset, said in an opening prayer before about 100 people attending a ceremony at Youngs Memorial Cemetery. “Let us remember particularly the things he has overcome in his own life, the hardships . . . and how he moved from one position to another position and got better every step of the way.”
Theodore Roosevelt was a sickly child whose ailments included severe asthma.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino placed a wreath of red, white and blue flowers before the shared headstone of Theodore Roosevelt and his second wife, Edith Kermit. Roosevelt was born on Oct. 27, 1858, and died in his sleep on Jan. 6, 1919.
“We . . . celebrate President Roosevelt's enduring spirit, his vigor, his tireless approach and his important motivation to advance the general welfare of all citizens, no matter what walk of life they came from,” Saladino said during the ceremony.
Roosevelt was also remembered as a supporter of the Boy Scouts, who, led the pledge of allegiance on Sunday. He served in the leadership of the Boy Scouts in Oyster Bay and Nassau County, according to the National Park Service.
Kevin O’Brien, 55, a retired New York City civil servant from East Norwich, came with his 9-year-old son, Matt, who wore a Cub Scout uniform.
“We had to stop and pay our respects,” O’Brien said. “He did so many things for America.”
Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service during his presidency and preserved about 230 million acres of public land, according to the National Park Service website.
“He was a great inspiration for the entire scouting movement across the United States,” said Mike Flanagan, 62, of Bayville, commissioner of the Boy Scout Shelter Rock district.
“It’s hiking boots now, more than rifles,” Flanagan said.
At Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt's nearby Oyster Bay home that is now a national historic site, the flagpole was conspicuously bare.
Because of the federal government shutdown, the Park Service postponed the opening of an exhibit, "Theodore Roosevelt, A Man for the Modern World," marking the centennial of Roosevelt’s death, that had been scheduled for Sunday.
“That unfortunately, will have to be postponed indefinitely,” Virginia Perrell, board member of the Friends of Sagamore Hill Perrell, said last week. “It’s a shame we missed the actual date” on which Roosevelt died.
A notice posted on the museum door said the area is open but not fully staffed because Park Service employees wouod not be available to issue permits, collect money, collect trash, clean restrooms or maintain roadways.
Peter L. Weiler, of Oyster Bay Cove, tried to enter the museum building after a walk with his daughter Kate, 21. “We were trying to get warm for a minute, honestly,” he said.
He called the shutdown a “temporary setback. Cooler heads will prevail.”
With David M. Schwartz