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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