From every generation of Americans that has gone to war, the names of a few veterans are added to our nation's collective memory – some for selflessness and courage under fire, some for national leadership in tough times, some for their celebrity.
During the month of May, The American Legion – the nation's largest wartime veterans organization, numbering 2.4 million – invites all Americans to pick who they believe to be the country's most beloved veterans, choosing from 100 names online a www.legion.org/belovedveterans. Individuals can cast up to 25 votes, and if you don't see your favorites on the list, submit a name or two.
Veterans receiving the most votes will be featured in the November issue of The American Legion Magazine and online.
While every man and woman who has worn a uniform deserves the thanks of a grateful nation, having put country above themselves, a select few enter the history books or become household names because of their achievements on or off the battlefield. By giving Americans an opportunity to learn about, remember and celebrate our most famous veterans, The American Legion hopes to bring attention to the honorable nature of military service, teach some history and, perhaps, refresh our memories.
The Legion's list includes veterans from nearly every war era, including:
- Quentin Roosevelt. The youngest son of former President Theodore Roosevelt was shot down during World War I – and buried by the Germans with full military honors.
- Doris "Dorie" Miller. For carrying fellow sailors to safety and manning an anti-aircraft machine gun at Pearl Harbor, Miller was the first black American to receive the Navy Cross.
- Jeremiah Denton. The future senator from Alabama confirmed that Americans were being tortured in North Vietnam, blinking his eyes in Morse code during a TV interview.
- Chris Kyle. Called the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, the Navy SEAL served four tours in Iraq and was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for valor.
Cast your votes today at www.legion.org/belovedveterans.