By longstanding custom, on President’s Day (February 22) Navy ships on the Potomac passing George Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon man the rail and salute our nation’s first President, who became Commander in Chief after he was General in Chief of the Army of the United States.
Eleven other U.S. Presidents wore general’s silver stars on their military uniform. Washington leads the list as General of the Armies of the United States, a title posthumously awarded by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 as part of our Country’s bicentennial celebration.
Washington’s successors, by rank seniority, who also served as general officers before gaining our Country’s highest elective office, were:
Other two-star future Presidents:
One-star (Brigadier General):
Eighteen other presidents served as lower-ranking military officers. James Buchanan, however, was the only future president who enlisted in the Army and never became an officer. Abraham Lincoln, also born in February, mustered in and out of the Illinois militia during the 1832 Black Hawk War, first as a Captain and then as leaving as a private soldier.
Finally, a dozen presidents never served in the military in any capacity, the most recent being Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Military experience allows our Commander in Chief to have a clear understanding of the important role our Armed Services play in our Nation’s defense and security, as well as the sacrifice of our Military personnel and their families.
Something that seems to have been lost, as evidenced by the choices and decisions made by the current administration and Congress.