Letter to the Editor

The military experience of Lincoln and Roosevelt

Although I found Eliot A. Cohen’s Jan. 11 op-ed, “Hagel’s war service isn’t the point,” interesting, I must protest one statement in the article: “Our two most effective wartime presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, had virtually no military experience.”

Lincoln served as a volunteer with the Illinois militia for nearly three months during the Black Hawk War in 1832. Although he witnessed no battles during his short tenure, he participated in the aftermath of two encounters in a very personal way — by helping to bury the militia dead. His experiences had a strong impression on the man and helped shape him as a future war leader.

Roosevelt served ably as assistant secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. In that capacity he was required to deal with the mercurial Josephus Daniels (a tremendous undertaking in itself) and was exposed to relationships with numerous military figures who would play major roles during World War II. Roosevelt was an accomplished sailor and thoroughly enjoyed his service in this political/military role. He desired to wear the uniform, but the war ended before he could do so.

Extracting the statement would have made the article more factually correct and thereby even more interesting.

Jim Pritchett, Falls Church

 
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