For a large part of American history, military service was considered almost a prerequisite to serving as president. But in recent decades, the American public has elected businessmen and even an actor. So how important is military service to the job of the president? Explore the topic in this series of short videos.
Committed to the Cause
James Garfield joined the Union Army in 1861, shortly after the start of hostilities. When he came face to face with slavery during his time fighting in the south, Garfield's belief in the cause of abolition and freedom was strengthened. "This is my hope," he wrote, "that when we shall return to civil life, there shall go up an unrelenting cry for freedom."
On a starless night in August 1943, a Japanese destroyer split Kennedy's PT-109 boat in half. The crew had been left for dead, but the future president felt it was his duty to get his men to safety -- and he was going to spare no effort to do so.
George H.W. Bush was changed forever by his time as a combat pilot in World War II.
Nuclear Submarine Officer
Jimmy Carter learned punctuality, discipline, and order from his time in the Navy. Six years of hard work earned him the position of Senior Officer of the U.S.S. Seawolf.
Captain Harry Truman's leadership during his first clash with the Germans made his men look at him in an entirely new light.
Truman stepped on the world stage with two of the century's greatest figures: Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.
Bush vs. Reagan
A comparison of George Bush and Ronald Reagan. "In many ways, George Bush was what Reagan pretended to be," says the film's narrator, David Ogden Stiers. It seemed that Bush embodied all the characters Reagan had portrayed in film.