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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce presented Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III with its prestigious “TR,” or “Teddy Roosevelt,” award on Dec. 4, given to individuals who, in the face of adversity, “do the right thing.”
The McAllen Chamber of Commerce chose Judge Salinas for his stance against the border wall and his success in working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to rethink the wall and re-build portions of the county’s levees instead, said Steve Ahlenius, McAllen Chamber of Commerce President/CEO. The levee-barrier alternative, which the Judge fought for in Washington D.C., will save residences and businesses from having to purchase mandatory flood insurance and will protect southern Hidalgo County’s bustling industrial parks from flooding. Not one piece of private land was seized. This is a compromise we can all live with and appreciate, Mr. Ahlenius said at the luncheon. Judge Salinas’ dedication to the economic prosperity of the region — the work on the Rio South Texas Economic Council and the lobbying efforts to bring U.S. Highway 281 up to interstate standards — was also noted.
The award, a beautifully drawn graphite portrait of the 26th president captioned and framed with one of President Roosevelt’s most famous quotes, was designed by McAllen artist Joe Taylor. The quote reads:
"IT IS NOT THE CRITIC WHO COUNTS: NOT THE MAN WHO POINTS OUT HOW THE STRONG MAN STUMBLES OR WHERE THE DOER OF DEEDS COULD HAVE DONE BETTER. THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD, WHO STRIVES VALIANTLY, WHO ERRS AND COMES UP SHORT AGAIN AND AGAIN, BECAUSE THERE IS NO EFFORT WITHOUT ERROR OR SHORTCOMING, BUT WHO KNOWS THE GREAT ENTHUSIASMS, THE GREAT DEVOTIONS, WHO SPENDS HIMSELF FOR A WORTHY CAUSE; WHO, AT THE BEST, KNOWS, IN THE END, THE TRIUMPH OF HIGH ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHO, AT THE WORST, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST HE FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY, SO THAT HIS PLACE SHALL NEVER BE WITH THOSE COLD AND TIMID SOULS WHO KNEW NEITHER VICTORY NOR DEFEAT."
Judge Salinas accepted the award on behalf of the Hidalgo County Commissioner’s Court and his staff, acknowledging those who stood beside him in the fight against the border wall. He then imparted another famous Teddy Roosevelt quote to the crowd, pertinent to the situation:
IN ANY MOMENT OF DECISION, THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS THE RIGHT THING, THE NEXT BEST THING IS THE WRONG THING, AND THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IS NOTHING.
Judge Salinas explained to the crowd that it was hard to have to explain to his five children why he appeared in the newspaper, his face plastered on a sign during an anti-border wall rally. Those were some dark days, he recounted, but hard decisions must be made and not left up to chance.
“Whether you think I’m right or wrong, I did what I thought was right.”