Some years ago I was teaching The American Presidency and wanted to impress upon my students the importance of decisions a president can make upon ordinary citizens, so I invited a friend to visit who had fought in the Vietnam War. He did not think much of Presidents Johnson and Nixon. A student asked if he had to go through it all again which president he would wish to serve under. My friend answered Abraham Lincoln, because Lincoln cared about the men who fought.
For all of our veterans on this Veteran’s Day, some brief remarks from President Lincoln to a regiment from Ohio:
Speech to the One Hundred Sixty-sixth Ohio Regiment
August 22, 1864
I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children's children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright--not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.