TAMPA, Florida. – The Tampa Rough Riders are a staple throughout the Bay Area, keeping alive the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt and members of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. Today, a museum exhibit is dedicated to educating the next generation about this historic era.
The Rough Riders were formed right after the declaration of war on April 25, 1898. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were in Tampa in June 1898. It took three days for all the trains to arrive from San Antonio. They unloaded at Seffner, picked up their horses and went to Tampa and took what was called Lafayette Street and is now known as Kennedy Blvd.
About a year ago, the Rough Riders turned a meeting hall into their museum. It features large, hand-painted murals by French artist Geff Strik who now lives in St. Petersburg.
A tent is set up with a Teddy Roosevelt mannequin inside. There are also artifacts including rifles, pistols, canteens, satchels, and other items that the organization has collected over the years.
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“What we want people to understand about Teddy Roosevelt is that he wasn’t just the 26th president. He was a man. He was a sick young man. He had a hard time when his wife died in childbirth. He also lost the child. He had a lot of challenges. He eventually became assistant secretary of the Navy,” said Tampa Rough Riders president Lt. Col. William “Billy Hogan.
The purpose of the museum is to highlight the role Roosevelt and his troops played in American history. Many members of the First American Volunteer Cavalry are unsung heroes.
“Americans usually think of Cuba, San Juan Hill, they think of the history of the Rough Riders. They don’t think of the indigenous Cuban people who were fighting there. It was their third war of independence from live from Spain and we came to help them win this,” explained Hogan. “Unless you’re African American, you don’t necessarily understand the significance of the Buffalo Soldiers, not just in Cuba, but in American military history from 1866 to I think 1947. We want that story told. “
The museum is located at 601 N. 19th Street, Tampa, Florida. The museum offers free tours by appointment Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule a visit, call 813-248-1898 or email [email protected]