Isn't it amazing that there can be heroes in wars that we have never heard of before. Joshua Chamberlain would be one, but there are so many others. The movie "Gettysburg" follows up with Chamberlain's exploits. He won the Medal of Honor for his actions in the "Devil's Den" at "Little Round Top" at Gettysburg. He became a war hero for his actions that saved the left flank of the Union Army on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. But it is a real life fact that "war heroes" oftentimes are not heroes but people who are pushed to the brink and make a final life and death decision.
During this period in history, most politicians were almost required to have served in war. If you check with our history of presidents this is even more prevalent:
Washington: We know his history.
Adams, Jefferson, Madison: Patriots who put their lives on the line.
Monroe: Revolutionary War
John Q. Adams: Son of a President
Andrew Jackson: Revolutionary War as a child, War of 1812
We had many more including:
Zachary Taylor: Mexican War
Abraham Lincoln: Black Hawk War
U.S. Grant: Mexican War, Civil War
Rutherford B. Hayes: Civil War
James A. Garfield: Civil War
William McKinley: Civil War
Theodore Roosvelt: Spanish-American War
Harry S Truman: First World War (On his lapel you will see the lapel pin of the victory medal for the First World War. He wore it everyday.)
Dwight Eisenhower: Mexican Expedition, Second World War
John F. Kennedy: Second World War
Lyndon B. Johnson: Second World War
Richard M. Nixon: Second World War
Gerald R. Ford: Second World War
Ronald Reagan: Second World War
George H.W. Bush: Second World War
That is not to say, however, that those who did not serve are in some way deficient. They have become the Commander-in-Chief and that is in keeping with the U.S. Constitution. It is just interesting that it seems military service is such a catapult to the presidency.
The presidency is a very interesting office and the people who have occupied it are interesting as a result. I know I am a geek for being able to write a post like this, but I love thinking about things like this.