America's Most Beloved Veterans

World War II veteran Audie Murphy
World War II veteran Audie Murphy.

One of our nation's founding fathers, Patrick Henry, put it this way: "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."

These are the signature characteristics of American veterans. Their strength, vigilance and courage occupy a revered place in the collective conscience of a public made free by the willingness of some to protect all others.

Veterans Day is a time to honor them, living and dead, from the patriots who fought for independence in the late 18th century to the men and women who saved the lives of their fallen comrades on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Some came home to become movie stars, professional athletes, generals and presidents. Others, like the four chaplains of different faiths who went down with a sinking troop ship after passing out life jackets to everyone else they could, would not live to see their legacies honored.

In May 2014, The American Legion Magazine asked its readers, website visitors and social media followers to select from a list of 100 beloved U.S. veterans. More than 70,000 votes were cast. The choices span our nation's lifetime.

The top 25 veterans are listed below. For profiles of each veteran written by authors, experts, historians and, in a few cases, those who knew them best, visit the American Legion website.

1. Audie Murphy


Audie Murphy

2. George Washington


George Washington

3. Theodore Roosevelt


Teddy Roosevelt

4. Alvin York


Alvin York

5. George Patton


George Patton

6. Dwight Eisenhower


Dwight Eisenhower

7. Norman Schwarzkopf


Norman Schwarzkopf

8. Robert E. Lee


Robert E. Lee

9. Jimmy Doolittle


Jimmy Doolittle

10. Ulysses Grant


Ulysses Grant

11. Jimmy Stewart


Jimmy Stewart

12. Doris "Dorie" Miller


Doris "Dorie" Miller

13. Michael Murphy


Michael Murphy

14. Eddie Rickenbacker


Eddie Rickenbacker

15. Chris Kyle


Chris Kyle

16. The Four Chaplains


the Four Chaplains

17. Pat Tillman


Pat Tillman

18. Douglas MacArthur


Douglas MacArthur

19. John F. Kennedy


John F. Kennedy

20. Billy Mitchell


Billy Mitchell

21. John Paul Jones


John Paul Jones

22. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson


Stonewall Jackson

23. Bruce Crandall


Bruce Crandall

24. Omar Bradley


Omar Bradley


25. Lewis "Chesty" Puller

Lewis "Chesty" Puller

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