While pondering the potential of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, I think back to my time at the Nixon Library in California. It was in 2008 and I was U.S. secretary of agriculture and a member of the team negotiating trade agreements around the world. The subject at hand that day was trade between the USA and China.
The Chinese delegation wanted to meet in the Nixon Library because of all the work President Nixon had done to build relations between our two countries. He opened the door between the two world powers in 1972, and his influence over global relationships is still being felt. That is why I am so excited about the effort to raise $100 million to build a presidential library in western North Dakota, close to the area where Theodore Roosevelt put down his stake in Dakota Territory. TR can still speak to us today with a much-needed voice of hard work, courage, honor, justice, truth, and hardihood -- a timeless message for all Americans.
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation has been investing and working to provide history, education and entertainment venues to preserve and enhance the legacy of Roosevelt. And I am honored to chair the Board of Directors of this public foundation, which oversees $60 million in assets and over 50 years of experience in the Badlands of western North Dakota. We are confident that the money can be raised, and the TR Presidential Library will be built. We also expect that it will provide a place that will educate, enthuse and excite people with the values and character of the man who said, “I never would have been president if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.”
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The mission of the TRMF is to connect people to Medora for positive, life-changing experiences. A presidential library in the Medora area can only enhance that mission; therefore, we are pleased to lend the expertise of our organization and staff to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation.
Although our names are similar and we are separate entities, we share the common goal of bringing the remarkable story of TR’s life and values to the public. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation was founded in 2014 with a plan to build a presidential library worthy of the 26th president of the United States of America -- a man who is rated as one of the top five presidents in our country’s history and a person who had a tremendous positive impact on the everyday lives of Americans. He was enormously influential in world affairs.
The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library will be much more than just a world-class destination. It is a place that will attract hundreds of thousands of people to North Dakota who will absorb the strength and character with which to build the society and culture for tomorrow.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done to accomplish this dream, and I urge all North Dakotans to support this project. The library deserves your help to make this happen. And it’s not all about the money, although that is an important aspect of success. You can bring your ideas, a word of encouragement or just a nod of approval. Don’t underestimate the influence you can have on the world by giving your support for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.
President Roosevelt often said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” The library is worth doing; let’s go to work and make it happen!
Ed Schafer, former North Dakota governor and former U.S. agriculture secretary, is chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.