Presidents who served in the United States Armed Forces are among our elite. Today, we celebrate all of our nation’s commander in chief’s.
In passing the Monday Holiday Bill in 1968, Congress moved a number of federal holidays to Monday, and Presidents’ Day is the first of the year.
While the day honors George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in particular, it is now understood as a celebration of all the presidents.
Military service is not required to serve as Commander in Chief; however, many of the presidents are veterans.
And while forty-five men have been president, only forty-four of them have served in the office. This is because President Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president.
Of these forty-four men, thirty-two of them served to one degree or another in the military.
Sixteen presidents served in the Army; nine served in various state militias; six served in the Navy; and one served in the Air Guard.
No Marine or Coast Guard veteran has yet been president.
Presidential Veterans from Past to Present
- 1st President: George Washington – Continental and US Army, American Revolution
- 3rd President: Thomas Jefferson – Virginia Militia, American Revolution
- 4th President: James Madison – Virginia Militia, American Revolution and the War of 1812
- 5th President: James Monroe – Continental Army, American Revolution
- 7th President: Andrew Jackson – Tennessee State Militia, Continental Army, US Army, American Revolution, War of 1812, Creek War and First Seminole War
- 9th President: William Henry Harrison – US Army, Northwest Indian War, War of 1812
- 10th President: John Tyler – Virginia Militia, War of 1812
- 11th President: James K. Polk – Tennessee Militia
- 12th President: Zachary Taylor – US Army, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War, Mexican-American War.
- 13th President: Millard Fillmore – New York State Militia
- 14th President: Franklin D. Pierce – US Army, Mexican-American War
- 15th President: James Buchanan – Pennsylvania State Militia, War of 1812
- 16th President: Abraham Lincoln – Illinois State Militia, Black Hawk War
- 17th President: Andrew Johnson – US Army, Civil War
- 18th President: Ulysses S. Grant – US Army, Civil War
- 19th President: Rutherford B. Hayes – US Army, Civil War
- 20th President: James Garfield – US Army, Civil War
- 21st President: Chester Arthur – New York State Militia
- 23rd President: Benjamin Harrison – US Army, Civil War
- 25th President: William McKinley – US Army, Civil War
- 26th President: Theodore Roosevelt – US Army, Spanish-American War
- 27th President: William Howard Taft – Connecticut Home Guard
- 33rd President: Harry Truman – Missouri Army Guard and US Army, World War I
- 34th President: Dwight D. Eisenhower – US Army, World War I and World War II
- 35th President: John F. Kennedy – US Navy, World War II
- 36th President: Lyndon Johnson – US Navy, World War II
- 37th President: Richard Nixon – US Navy, World War II
- 38th President: Gerald Ford – US Navy, World War II
- 39th President: Jimmy Carter – US Navy, World War II
- 40th President: Ronald Reagan – US Army, World War II
- 41st President: George H.W. Bush – US Navy, World War II
- 43rd President: George W. Bush – Texas Air Guard
These presidents knew well the meaning of military service, and Presidents’ Day is a special tribute to them.