The Military Years


    Ironically, Roosevelt's fervent desire to serve his country through the political spectrum was thwarted by the military's desire that he serve his country through a muzzle-loader.  Not long after his graduation summa cum laude from William and Mary, the young man found himself in a recruiter's booth, signing papers that would ultimately send him off to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.  There was, at that point, no conscription system to speak of, but Roosevelt later joked that "the military has ways of making you believe wholeheartedly that you believe wholeheartedly in what they believe, and what they often believe is that all young men should join the service."  After a brief stint in the Texas Coast Guard, Roosevelt was sent along with several other boys from his division to Trinidad.  The French were coming apart nicely at the seams, and American "presence" within their colonies served to lighten their fears of losing more ground and to fuel our then-imperialistic spirit.  Roosevelt mostly patrolled Trinidad on his daily rounds, but brief allowances of leave allowed him to explore Tobago as well.  It was in Tobago that Roosevelt met his first wife, a young Dutch maid named Jean-Lydian Rillfertix.  Soon after their marriage in the U.S. Army's makeshift chapel in southern Trinidad, however, Jean-Lydian succumbed to cholera.  Roosevelt was so emotionally shattered that he had to be sent back home.  This would prove to be the end of his military career.

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