Saved By a Speech

On October 14, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was in Milwaukee campaigning for President on the Bull Moose Party ticket. He ate dinner at the Hotel Gilpatrick with supporters and was leaving the hotel to go to the Milwaukee Auditorium to deliver a speech. As he shook hands and waved at well-wishers, a man stepped out of the crowd and at close range shot Roosevelt in the chest.

By all practical reasoning, he should have been killed. Not only did he live, but he gave an eighty-minute speech before he would go to the hospital for treatment.

What saved his life? Was it a miracle? A supernatural event? No, what saved his life was that the bullet penetrated his folded, multi-page speech manuscript. Who would imagine that a speech manuscript could save a person’s life! Well, the bullet was also slowed down by going through a steel spectacle case in his pocket before entering his chest, thus creating only a flesh wound.

There are very few times when delivering a long speech from a manuscript is a good thing, but in this case, the speaker was saved by his speech—and his myopia! Strange objects can save people’s lives.

[Note: I used to tell this speech and draw from my breast pocket a toy cap gun and shoot it as part of my speech. I stopped when an elderly lady in the audience almost had a heart attack when she heard it! Then of course after 9/11, that was totally unacceptable.]

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